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Obama Extends the U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba

Andrew Nagy
Posted: September 15, 2011

The United States' trade embargo on Cuba, the longest such restriction in modern history, will continue for another year after President Obama signed legislation that extends the law on Tuesday.

The Trading With the Enemy Act, which was originally enacted in 1917 and gives the President the power to oversee and restrict the country's trading policy with enemies in times of war, was slated to end on Friday unless Obama intervened.

Obama, though, chose to extend the act, declaring in a memorandum to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury: "I hereby determine that the continuation for one year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States."

The embargo would not have suddenly ended on Friday if Obama did not re-sign the Trading With the Enemy Act. Congress was granted the power to override a presidential decision to end the embargo when it passed the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.

The move to extend the embargo is not surprising, but there had been signs in the beginning of Obama’s presidency that U.S. relations with Cuba might improve.

Early in 2009, Obama lifted travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban-Americans and abolished limitations on money transfers. And just this year, U.S. Customs approved eight more airports for passenger flights between Cuba and the U.S.

Obama also made strides to improve business relations with the island. He lifted sanctions to allow U.S. telecommunication companies the chance to apply for business licenses in Cuba, encouraging cell phone, Internet, radio and satellite television technologies there.

In addition, Obama made it easier for businessmen to sell agricultural and medical goods in Cuba by offering a general travel license that does not require individual permission.

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Comments   39 comment(s)

Tom September 15, 2011 3:33pm ET

Yet another reason to see him to the door in 2012.


gdaplumber1@sprint.blackberry.net September 15, 2011 8:11pm ET

i actually thought he'd be the one to lift this stupid embargo>>>


Donald Cantrall — Springfield , Illinois , U.S.A.,  —  September 15, 2011 9:12pm ET

what times of war???


Kenny L. — Oldeminence, KY, United States,  —  September 15, 2011 9:41pm ET

I would like nothing more than to be able to finally purchase the cuban delights I read so much about, but this is the very same man- in- charge, that was willing to park several nukes at our door stop. Nuff Said!


T. Albatin — Abbeville , South Carolina , USA! ,  —  September 16, 2011 7:44am ET

THIS SUCKS ASS ! LITERALLY!!!


Gregg Catlow — Coventry, RI, United States,  —  September 16, 2011 10:06am ET

American companies, businessmen, and mobsters made tremendous investments in that island, then Castro stole it all. ( Although the pre-Castro government was corrupt as well) Think about that the next time you toast the foot of a communist cigar. Besides, think of all the amazing NC blends that never would have been created!


Mathew Cartwright — Miles City, montana, USA,  —  September 16, 2011 11:41am ET

America makes up %50 of the cuban cigar market. If the embargo was lifted, demand would go up. Along with the already high prices.


Christopher Carpenito — ellicott city, md, usa,  —  September 16, 2011 12:40pm ET

This embargo has long outlived its usefulness. We buy oil from Chavez in Venezuel, we buy just about everything else from China. If we are going to say that we refuse to trade with oppressive or communist regimes, I am OK with that, but that list is a heck of a lot longer than Cuba and with some much worse members. Actually, we would probably have to manufacture just about everything here in America, not bad for the economy. Realistically though, just drop the stupid ban, it is a grudge from almost 50 years ago.


Marc Ranson — Edmonton, AB, Canada,  —  September 16, 2011 7:18pm ET

Marc Ranson Rotonda West,Fl,USA & Stony Plain,Ab,Canada

As a resident of both Canada and the USA I have a hard time understanding how an extremely poor country like Cuba poses any threat at all to a superpower like the USA. With so many Cubans already living in south Florida why not open the gates to trade and travel with this country? Then I will be able to enjoy Cuban cigars on both sides of the border and cheap travel to Cuba when I am living in south Florida! I really did think that Obama would finally end this embargo which only hurts the economies of both countries.


Jonathan Egbosimbah — York, PA, USA,  —  September 16, 2011 8:48pm ET

I don’t blame President Obama for not lifting the embargo. He could barely get a simple proposal such as the debt ceiling passed without a national crisis almost breaking out. If this embargo were to be lifted by him everyone that is not already a supporter would call him more socialist then every, and have this as ammunition. It’s just sad for all of us who love a good smoke, no matter where it comes from.


Paulo Vieira — Ontario, Canada,  —  September 16, 2011 9:23pm ET

Wow. Pandora's box is slowly being opened up here! I like the fact that American's cant buy Cuban smokes. When the embargo is lifted, it will lead to increased demand which in turn will drive up prices and increase the already previlant fradulent tobacco sales.

Hosers Eh???


Shawn Plate September 17, 2011 1:57am ET

Looks like the economists in the room refuse to acknowledge the supply side of the equation.


Marvin Crenshaw — Looking Glass River, MI, USA,  —  September 17, 2011 8:44pm ET

Our communist president knows that normalized relations with Cuba would spur capitalism and lead to the end of the Castro slave state. Personally, I will never smoke a Cuban cigar until the Cuban cigar industry is returned to its rightful owners and the Castro regime is dead and buried.


Alexander Strnad — Point of Rocks, MD, United States,  —  September 17, 2011 10:43pm ET

People. What year is it? 2011. Why would he extend it for a year? So that it would go away in 2012 once the election is over. If he ended the embargo, all you conservatives would just be saying that he's a socialist or a communist even more. Did you read the article or follow the news? He's been working to improve our relationship with Cuba. Once he doesn't need to worry about an election, he's gonna lift the embargo, and we'll all be puffin on cohibas and h upmanns on the beach. give him a chance


Mathew Cartwright — Miles City, montana, USA,  —  September 17, 2011 11:43pm ET

As far supply side of the equation goes Habanos SA has opend up to a larger world market in the last 6 months and has NOT increased production. And the recent prices HAVE gone up.


Lex DeCrisroforo — old saybrook, CT, USA,  —  September 17, 2011 11:53pm ET

It's the best thing because the less tourist there are the better. it's like my own private vacation. why would you want the us taxing the best cigars the world? besides when you get cigars rum illegally it's that much better. the best island never over run with the tourists. go there for yourself and tell me that I'm wrong.


Racheal Steele — New York, New York, United States,  —  September 20, 2011 3:22am ET

Even though Im not a smoker, I think it is high time that we let go of this stupid embargo and let the smokers smoke their Cuban cigars. I think it restricts the Americans right to travel and its something that we should not accept in a free society. Its not fair that we have to be placed on such regulations. Other countries dont have an issue with Cuba and most people living in the US have no memories of the US-Cuba incident, unless you are talking about those old fogies down in Florida who are still stuck in the 1960s. I think we could learn alot from each other and it would expose the US to other cultures different from ourseleves so I say we forget the past and end the embargo. Time to get out the dark ages and move on


Paul Byrne Byrne — Toronto, ON Ontario, Canada,  —  September 20, 2011 10:59am ET

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the cold war ended a long time ago. Time for a better solution before Castro outlives yet another US president.


EDDIE MOIDEL — SEWICKLEY, PA, UNITED STATES,  —  September 20, 2011 5:04pm ET

I have a friend buried in the Beaver PA Cemetary who died fighting in Vietnam. I also have a new linen shirt in my closet made in Vietnam. Ironic, I think


Caleb Swearingen — Weatherford, OK, United States,  —  September 21, 2011 1:05pm ET

When it comes down to it, with the price of Cubans and so many good non Cubans and decent prices, whether the embargo is extended or gone, I still would smoke mostly non Cubans. This helps me save money. I would rather have Obama worry about our crap in this country before the foreign diplomacy (which is his main focus already).


Roberto Pe'rez — Coral Springs, Florida, United States,  —  September 21, 2011 1:23pm ET

I wonder if the Kennedy Clan has a few Cubans for sale being they bought a life time supply.

It's time for this embargo to end, it's just hurting the people of the island not the Government.
Besides I would love to go to Cuba and sit in a lounge in La Casa del Habanos and smoke a Cuban cigar (in Cuba)that to me would be Heaven.


Andres Cruz September 21, 2011 2:54pm ET

It's sad that neither side of the political arena will remove the embargo. Lord knows the republicans won't either.


Paulo Vieira — Ontario, Canada,  —  September 21, 2011 10:07pm ET

In response to Caleb...I good Cuban smokes much better than a "good" non-cuban cigar. In my experience, 2 brands have excellent cigars. Padron and Tatuaje. Everything else is sub par for the price. People rant about the cost of cubans but try buying a high end Dominican or Nicaraguan and tell me they are cheap!


Sergio Garza September 22, 2011 5:58pm ET

new aficionado here so cuban cohibas are illegal right? i live along the mexican border n may be able to get them there but not smoke them in the u.s.?


Craig Rigby — Jeffersonville, Vermont, USA,  —  September 24, 2011 12:16pm ET

Sergio -
If I read the rules right (some time ago) I thought I read that technically it's actually illegal for Americans to consume or purchase Cuban cigars even outside the country. This "law" is really in no way realistically enforceable, but that's what I heard.

Anyone chime in on that one?


Kyle Trahan — Abbeville, LA, U.S.A.,  —  October 5, 2011 8:35am ET

Maybe its because Castro has openly admitted socialism is a failed ideology and Obama got offended. As a conservative and one of the 50% that pays taxes here I will say our current president is a socialist regardless of what he does about an embargo with Cuba. Hell, its not like Obama himself has denied it. Anyone who has read his own books or paid remote attention to the media in 2008 should know that. I agree that there are major issues in Cuba, but given the current direction this regime is steering the country we are not that far off. Think anyone at Gibson guitar would disagree with me?


Guy Buscema — Calvisson, Gard, France,  —  October 11, 2011 8:14pm ET

To Gregg Catlow,
Quote; Think about that the next time you toast the foot of a communist cigar. Besides, think of all the amazing NC blends that never would have been created!" unquote

Gregg, there's nothing wrong with toasting a
a cuban cigar, I think that you're still in the 60's when you say, "Communist cigars", No
they are simply Cuban cigars, they were there before the Spanish, before Batista & the Americans and they'll still be there AFTER Castro & communism. As for the NC cigars and all those blends that would have never been created , well,I'll admitt that It's a good thing that you, at least, are smoking them.
The rest of the world enjoys pepper on their food,and not in their cigars. Then again, what does 80% of the Cuban cigar smoking world know ? Right ?
Best regards,
Guy


Richard Carriere — Alida , Sask, Canada,  —  October 17, 2011 6:05pm ET

I'm a little confussed. First off what war times? Second the government wont let americans travel there or from what I understand you are not aven allowed to buy a cuban cigar when you travel out of the country so where I am confussed is which country is it that has the dictating government?


Barry Smith — San Pedro, CA,  —  October 21, 2011 6:58pm ET

I still don't understand why we trade with China, Russia, and various other former enemy countries, but not Cuba. Mexico treats us like crap and smuggles in drugs, and people. And treats their people poorly. but, Obama wants to continue the embargo on Cuba, why. why are they worse than anyone else.


James White — Chicago, IL, USA,  —  October 24, 2011 3:19pm ET

Let me first say that me everyone in my cigar club and that includes me support President Obama 100%. We really have high hopes that he will see the light on this issue and please lift this useless embargo.


Gary Bazdell — Ottawa, ON, Canada,  —  October 29, 2011 11:24pm ET

The 2011 US defense budget put to another use would mean that every human...all 7 billion, would receive $100. Does this sound like a country that should fear Cuba? Maybe they are working on a flying cigar that poses a threat to America.


Thomas Tompkins — Turlock, CA, USA,  —  November 1, 2011 12:53pm ET

Moderate conservative here, have no love for the Castro regime, but it is high time we leave the past behind and move forward to normalize relations with Cuba. Having said that, if Cuban cigars became available tomorrow, I might try a few for novelty's sake, but I think I would stick with the many non-Cuban and moderately priced cigars I have come to love. Push comes to shove, I would rather my $$ support the fine cigars coming out of DR, HND, and NIC. And I am waiting for the Brazilian trade to amp up - it's just around the corner (hopefully). Who needs Cuba?


James Beavers — London, Ontario, Canada,  —  November 2, 2011 7:28pm ET

Today the embargo has nothing to do with communism or Castro spreading socialism throughout the Caribbean. It has to do with the huge political machine that runs the US. The embargo survives because a bunch of anti Castro politicians use it to keep their jobs and use Florida as a "key" state in every election. Nothing to do with what Cuba is today, everything to do with keeping the political cash machine running in Florida. Need a sound bite and a little PAC money- rant about Cuba and how it endangers the American way of life. But go ahead and buy your $1 toothbrushes and $9.99 coffee makers from China. There an outstanding example of human rights and free enterprise. Heading to Cuba in 5 weeks for another week of awesome diving and great cigars!!


rexjohnh@yahoo.com.au December 2, 2011 11:08pm ET

I never cease to be amazed by Americans' paranoia over Socialism. I wonder if the majority even know what it is. A considerable number of democracies around the world are, or contain elements of, Socialist policy or philosophy; England, France, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Australia and my own country, New Zealand, to name a few. None of them could be considered any more restrictive of their populations than the USA is to yours. In fact, under the Bush administration, America appears to have signed away a number of freedoms in the name of "homeland security" with nary a whisper from the general population. But try and institute a national health policy and out come morons with automatic weapons! That's a display of something, but it's not freedom. There are times America really does look like one huge James Ellroy novel! Get over Cuba and the missile crisis and admit that what really rankles is that Cuba had the balls to tell the USA to go fuck itself.


Albert Montalvo December 3, 2011 5:26pm ET

That last remark was the best , smartest and contained the most truth well said


Jakub Lochowicz — Poznan, Wielkopolska, Poland,  —  December 5, 2011 10:09am ET

Sorry Mates but the truth is that thanks to US embargo we have Cuban cigars in Europe :-)


Mike Robertson — Whitby, Ontario, Canada,  —  January 20, 2012 4:19am ET

Hmmmm. Seems personal to me, after all, they deal Japan. Didnt Japan bomb American soil and kill American soldiers? And the US forgave them???


Paul Bell March 2, 2012 2:19pm ET

Anyone know how I can get legitimate Cuban Cigars in the United States? Any websites that are legit?


Regino Santos June 22, 2012 7:33pm ET

The reason why the embargo is still in place is simple. The supporters of the embargo, which mostly lives in a swing state of Florida has a strong PAC, which has contributed Millions to supporting candidates. To win the presidency you need to win Florida along with all that PAC money.


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