Support For Cuba Embargo Continues To Decline

By DANIEL LARISON • February 13, 2014, 3:03 PM

Joshua Keating comments on the changes in public opinion on the Cuba embargo, noting that supporters of the embargo remain the most interested in keeping the policy in place:

A majority of Americans, and even a majority of Cuban-Americans in Florida (who also supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in the last election), may now oppose the embargo, but older voters with visceral personal experience of Castro’s Cuba feel more strongly about it. The number of people whose votes and donations are determined by their support for the embargo may be dwindling, but it’s probably still greater than the number whose vote and donations are determined by opposition to it.

The good news is that support for the utterly useless embargo of Cuba has been getting steadily weaker over time, and there is good reason to assume that it will continue to wane until the embargo is finally lifted. Even though this will happen many decades later than it should have, it is encouraging to know that there is some limit to how long such senseless policies can endure. The embargo is a good example of the kind of needlessly harmful policies the U.S. can pursue when it allows its dealings with another country to be shaped almost entirely by ideological and emotional factors. It is also a monument to our government’s remarkable inability to abandon some failed policies decades after their futility has become obvious.

The finding that most Floridians (63%) want to end the embargo makes perfect sense, since Florida would be one of the biggest beneficiaries–along with Cuba–of a return to normal trade relations. The only people that are being punished by the embargo are those Cubans and Americans that could otherwise be doing business with one another if the embargo didn’t exist. Embargoing Cuba has done nothing for the U.S. except to give our neighbors in the hemisphere another complaint against us, and it has arguably helped the Castros hold on to power more fully and longer than they might have otherwise done.

P.S. Looking more closely at the Atlantic Council’s poll, opponents of the embargo may have an advantage in intensity after all. Among Floridians, 8% strongly support normalizing relations with Cuba, but only 17% strongly oppose this. Nationwide, 30% are strongly in favor of normalization, and just 22% are opposed. Supporters of the embargo may have the advantages of defending the status quo and better organization, but it appears that they don’t have as many strong supporters as we might think.

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