Policy ForumGlobal Health

Fifty Years of U.S. Embargo: Cuba's Health Outcomes and Lessons

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Science  30 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5978, pp. 572-573
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189680

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The U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, enacted after Fidel Castro's revolution overthrew the Batista regime, reaches 50 years in 2010. Its stated goal has been to bring democracy to the Cuban people (1), but a 2009 U.S. Senate report concluded “the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose” (2). Domestic and international favor for the embargo is not strong (3). Many political and business leaders suggest changing U.S. policy toward Cuba, and President Obama eased travel and remittance restrictions of Cuban-Americans (4, 5). In light of such changes in sentiment and policy, and also the impending overhaul of U.S. health care, we review health consequences and lessons from “one of the most complex and longstanding embargoes in modern history” (2).