Who are some of our closest neighbors? Canada and Mexico are the obvious ones. Our relationships with the two countries are pretty good. Each nation is part of NAFTA after all. Now, what other nations are there which are right on our doorstep? The Bahamas and Cuba are the other two that come into mind. For the most part, we are pretty friendly to our neighbor countries. Cuba is the sole, sore exception to that rule. What was once America’s play spot and sugar plantation has now become one of our antagonists.
Why is this so? Some countries around the world believe that Cuba is a friendly country. Ask Ebola-stricken Liberia, which has over 100 medical personnel and doctors fighting the deadly virus and helping the overburdened hospitals. They've also sent doctors to help with the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and the 2004 Sri Lanka Tsunami this past decade. Last year alone, they sent nearly 4,000 healthcare workers to help service Brazil’s rural areas. For a large portion of the world, they have helped the world prosper.
Some might argue that it is because of Cuba’s Communist Government. Since the fall of Batista’s brutal regime, Cuba has been in the hands of the Castro brothers. However, our relationship with other communist countries has not resulted in a continuous embargo. Since the 1970’s, we have repaired our relationship with the People’s Republic of China, using it as a counterweight to Soviet expansion. The US has also begun to ameliorate their relationship with Vietnam’s communist government. For nearly 2 decades throughout the 20th Century, the US has frowned upon the Vietnamese communist’s existence. Whether it was through supporting French or the capitalist south US has sought to eliminate the communist government in favor for a west-favoring regime. In total, around 50,000 Americans soldiers were killed during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, we have now begun to trade weapons with the Vietnamese. More specifically, the US is selling lethal maritime arms to the country. It reveals a distinct change. Instead of trying to eliminate the government or create John Rambo movies against the evil Vietnamese, we are now trying to covertly support its naval territorial rights within the East/West Philippine/South China Sea.
So why do we still have a ~50 year embargo against Cuba? Was it due to their choice to accommodate Soviet aggression against the US, which was within their own self-interests? It was one of the few occasions that the Cold War almost went Hot. If given the order, US bombers would have performed several air-to-surface strikes against the known Cuban missile sites within 15 minutes. We are geographic neighbors. In fact, there are several areas within the Florida Keys that are closer to the communistic island than the nearest capitalistic behemoth known as Walmart. The main reason for the embargo lies within our own domestic politics and demographics. A lot of Americans were financially harmed by Castro’s revolution and several Cubans were forced to seek refuge within the US. Those that were forced to give up their property and flee Castro’s regime have not forgotten or lessened their hatred. The Cuban exiles have maintained a strong presence within domestic politics. Their power can easily be seen in the exceptional US policy towards Cuban migrants. The ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ policy is unique amongst the region. Numerous Haitians are turned back while several Cubans who won their race against the Coast Guard are allowed to stay. The Cuban diaspora is powerful. It is also the main reason why Cuba still has an embargo against it.