CubaBrief: JFK placed an Embargo on the Communist dictatorship in Cuba on this day in 1962, and why it is still needed.

President John F. Kennedy signs Proclamation 3447 an “Embargo on All Trade with Cuba”

On February 3, 1962 President John F. Kennedy declared in Proclamation 3447 an “Embargo on All Trade with Cuba” in which it was “resolved that the present Government of Cuba is incompatible with the principles and objectives of the Inter-American system; and, in light of the subversive offensive of Sino-Soviet Communism with which the Government of Cuba is publicly aligned, urged the member states to take those steps that they may consider appropriate for their individual and collective self-defense.”

Communist official lies about the US Embargo on X

Bruno Rodriguez, the Cuban dictatorship’s Foreign Minister, this morning at 7:00am tweeted out that “62 years ago, Kennedy formalized” what he falsely called “the #GenocidalBlockade against Cuba” He called for the end of sanction on the communist dictatorship.

President Kennedy did not impose a “blockade” on February 3, 1962, but he did initiate wholesale sanctions on the communist dictatorship that he called an embargo.

It is not a surprise that the Cuban dictatorship’s foreign minister lies.

 A full naval blockade was imposed on October 22, 1962 when offensive Soviet nuclear missiles placed by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were found in Cuba. Fidel Castro did all he could to provoke a violent outcome during the Cuban Missile Crisis, unnerving the Soviets. This blockade was ended by President Kennedy a month later, on November 22, 1962.

Kennedy and Khrushchev reached a peaceful outcome, but the Castro regime continued to protest and was unhappy with their Soviet allies. Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s essay “Tactics and strategy of the Latin American Revolution (October – November 1962)” was posthumously published by the official publication Verde Olivo on October 9, 1968, and even at this date was not only Guevara’s view but the official view: 

“Here is the electrifying example of a people prepared to suffer nuclear immolation so that its ashes may serve as a foundation for new societies. When an agreement was reached by which the atomic missiles were removed, without asking our people, we were not relieved or thankful for the truce; instead we denounced the move with our own voice.”

In the same essay, the dead Argentine declared: “We do assert, however, that we must follow the road of liberation even though it may cost millions of nuclear war victims.”

This dictatorship was and remains a threat to the United States, and other countries in the region. Raul Castro Ruz, Ramiro Valdes Menendez, and other ninety years olds who attempted to start World War 3 in October 1962 still run Cuba today.

(L to R) José Ramón Machado Ventura (age 93); dictator Raúl Castro (age 92); Raul Castro’s appointed president, Miguel Díaz-Canel (age 63); and Ramiro Valdés (age 91) architect of Cuba’s police state. Granma.

This was the reason for the month long blockade, but the economic sanctions were imposed after a long chain of events.

How the U.S. Embargo on Cuba came to be imposed

U.S. policy towards Cuba has not been static over the past six decades but has been changing and driven by various interests, including U.S. national interests. There is a lot of disinformation about how the U.S. Embargo was first imposed on Cuba, and how and why the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Havana. Here is a brief breakdown of what happened between January 1, 1959 and February 3, 1962.

Fidel Castro overthrew the Fulgencio Batista regime on January 1, 1959 following a U.S. arms embargo being imposed on the military dictator in the spring of 1958. The United States had actively pressured Batista to leave office since 1958. On January 7, 1959 the United States recognized the new Cuban government ushered in by the Castro brothers. It took just seven days to recognize the new regime. In comparison it had taken the United States 17 days to recognize the government of Fulgencio Batista following his March 10, 1952 coup.

Richard Nixon met with Fidel Castro in April 1959 and sought a detente with Havana in 1974.

In April 1959 Fidel Castro visited the United States on an eleven day trip that concluded with a three hour meeting with Vice President Richard Nixon on April 19, 1959.

Within three months of U.S. recognition of the revolutionary government in Cuba the new regime began targeting American interests on the island and allying itself with the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and plotting the overthrow of several Latin American governments.

Fidel Castro visits Caracas on January 23, 1959 and meets with Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt, a social democrat, “to enlist cooperation and financial backing for ‘the master plan against the gringos.'”

  • On March 3, 1959 the Castro regime expropriates properties belonging to the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, and took over its affiliate, the Cuban Telephone Company.

  • On May 17, 1959 the government expropriated farm lands over 1,000 acres and banned land ownership by foreigners.

  • Havana beginning in 1959 sent armed expeditions to Panama, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to overthrow their governments.

  • On February 6, 1960 talks began publicly between the U.S.S.R and Fidel Castro. The Soviet Union agreed to buy five million tons of sugar over five years. They also agreed to support Cuba with oil, grain, and credit.

  • On July 6, 1960 the Castro regime passed a nationalization law authorizing nationalization of U.S.- owned property through expropriation. Texaco, Esso, and Shell oil refineries were taken.

  • In September 1960 the Cuban government diplomatically recognized the People’s Republic of China.

  • On November 19, 1960 Ernesto “Che” Guevara heading a Cuban delegation in Beijing met with Mao Zedong between 4:20pm and 6:30pm and discussed revolutionary objectives in Latin America.

The Eisenhower State Department in response to the above actions imposed the first trade embargo on Cuba on October 19, 1960, and it “covered all U.S. exports to Cuba except for medicine and some foods.”

Tens of thousands of Cubans were lined up outside of the U.S. embassy in Havana seeking visas to flee the communist dictatorship, and this became a source of embarrassment for the communist regime. Fidel Castro communicated with the Eisenhower Administration on January 3, 1961 and demanded the expulsion of 67 U.S. diplomats, within 48 hours, reducing their number to 11, the same number at the Cuban embassy in Washington DC. The Americans had over 50,000 visa applications to process when the ultimatum was delivered.

On January 3, 1961 at 8:30 p.m. EST President Eisenhower issued a statement stating: “There is a limit to what the United States in self respect can endure. That limit has now been reached,” and severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961.

A year later, between January 22, 1962 to January 31, 1962 the Kennedy Administration successfully lobbied the Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to expel Cuba from the regional body.

The U.S. embargo was expanded and formalized 62 years ago today on February 3, 1962, and on July 26, 1964 the OAS imposed multilateral sanctions on Cuba and member states broke relations with Havana throughout the Western Hemisphere, with Mexico the only country maintaining relations with the Cuban dictatorship.

Two articles were published in 14ymedio in 2022 on the topic of U.S. sanctions on Cuba that dispel the Castro regime’s criticism of U.S. policy: “The True History of the United States Trade Embargo on Cuba” by former Cuban political prisoner Luis Zúñiga and “Is There Really a U.S. Embargo?” by Cuban economist Elías Amor Bravo. Both are required reading.

Havana claims that the U.S. economic embargo has been hurting Cuba for six decades, but that was not what the regime, and their maximum leader, said during the first 30 years of the Cuban dictatorship. Here are some of the statements made by Fidel Castro between the 1964 through 2000 related to the economic embargo.

“We are going to have, within ten years, a milk production higher than the Netherlands and a cheese production higher than France. That is the great goal that we propose to achieve. By that date we think that the amount of 30 million liters of milk will be exceeded. So there will be to export … you can imagine.” said Fidel Castro, in an interview with Eddy Martin from the official Hoy newspaper on March 2, 1964.

“The great battle of the eggs has been won. From now on the people will be able to have sixty million eggs each month,” said Fidel Castro in a speech on January 2, 1965.

“In 1970 the Island will have 5,000 experts in the cattle industry and around 8 million cows and calves that will be good milk producers” ….  “There will be so much milk that the Bay of Havana will be able to be filled with milk,” said Fidel Castro in his December 1966 speech during the Assembly of the Federation of Cuban Women, a mass organization of the dictatorship.

Fidel Castro, speaking at the First Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in December 1975 bragged about the unimportance of economic sanctions saying,“at first (the United States) their cancellations were quite annoying … but when luckily, we did not depend on them for anything, neither in trade, nor in supplies, nor in anything. If we are already victorious now, after victory, what can they threaten us with? With canceling what … what? ”

“The United States has less and less to offer Cuba. If we could export our products to the United States, we would have to start making plans for new production lines … because everything that we produce now and everything that we are going to produce in the next five years has already been sold to other markets. We should deprive other socialist countries of these products in order to sell them to the United States. But the socialist countries pay us much better prices and have much better relations with us than we have with the United States. There is a popular saying that goes: ‘Don’t trade a cow for a goat.'” said Fidel Castro in his interview with Playboy published in April 1985

“Cuba will not buy an aspirin or a grain of rice. They have put a lot of restrictions (on the permission to sell food and medicine) that make it humiliating for the country, but also make it impossible in practice,” said Fidel Castro, in front of the United States Interests Office, in Havana, Cuba on October 18, 2000.

Cuba’s communist dictatorship would go on to purchase billions in American agricultural products between 2000 and the present, but to do so they defaulted on what they owed to others. The peak year of trade between Cuba and the United States was in 2008, the last full year of the George W. Bush Administration. Most press accounts and opinion pieces about the U.S. Embargo on Cuba do not mention how it saved American taxpayers from billions in bad debt by the Cuban government. Nor do they discuss the full circumstances and national security concerns that drove the United States to impose an embargo on the Castro regime that are mentioned above.

On February 2, 2024, Benjamin Young wrote an opinion essay in The Hill titled “A conservative case for normalization with Cuba,” but it does not live up to the claim. The omissions, cliches, and left-wing talking points by the author do not make a conservative case, but fall into the pile mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There was a conservative case made in 1998, after the collapse of the USSR, but before the fruits of the Sao Paulo Forum were seen in Venezuela with the rise of Hugo Chavez, followed by the return of Ortega to power in Nicaragua, and Havana allowing Hezbollah to open up a base in Cuba, and even then it did not stand up to an informed debate.

The case was made by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1998 and successfully rebutted by Ambassador Otto Reich.

From the archives

The American Presidency,  February 3, 1962

John F. Kennedy

35th President of the United States: 1961 ‐ 1963

Proclamation 3447—Embargo on All Trade with Cuba

February 03, 1962

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas the Eighth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Serving as Organ of Consultation in Application of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, in its Final Act resolved that the present Government of Cuba is incompatible with the principles and objectives of the Inter-American system; and, in light of the subversive offensive of Sino-Soviet Communism with which the Government of Cuba is publicly aligned, urged the member states to take those steps that they may consider appropriate for their individual and collective self-defense;

Whereas the Congress of the United States, in section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 445), as amended, has authorized the President to establish and maintain an embargo upon all trade between the United States and Cuba; and

Whereas the United States, in accordance with its international obligations, is prepared to take all necessary actions to promote national and hemispheric security by isolating the present Government of Cuba and thereby reducing the threat posed by its alignment with the communist powers:

Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, acting under the authority of section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 445), as amended, do

1. Hereby proclaim an embargo upon trade between the United States and Cuba in accordance with paragraphs 2 and 3 of this proclamation.

2. Hereby prohibit, effective 12:01 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, February 7, 1962, the importation into the United States of all goods of Cuban origin and all goods imported from or through Cuba; and I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to carry out such prohibition, to make such exceptions thereto, by license or otherwise, as he determines to be consistent with the effective operation of the embargo hereby proclaimed, and to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to perform such functions.

3. AND FURTHER, I do hereby direct the Secretary of Commerce, under the provisions of the Export Control Act of 1949, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2021-2032), to continue to carry out the prohibition of all exports from the United States to Cuba, and I hereby authorize him, under that Act, to continue, make, modify, or revoke exceptions from such prohibition.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this third day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-sixth.

JOHN F. KENNEDY

By the President:

Dean Rusk,
Secretary of State

John F. Kennedy, Proclamation 3447—Embargo on All Trade with Cuba Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-3447-embargo-all-trade-with-cuba