Throwback Thursday: When Kennedy Closed Off Cuba

JFK enacted the embargo with Cuba, but not before buying up some cigars.

JFK Library on Twitter

JFK Library on Twitter

On the occasion of the historic end to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba, announced Wednesday, a lot of people are revisiting the decision to impose the embargo in the first place.

On Twitter, the JFK Library shared images of President John F. Kennedy’s official announcement. In a proclamation, Kennedy cited “the subversive offense of Sino-Soviet Communism with which the Government of Cuba is publicly aligned,” then imposed a ban on all imports and exports to Cuba.

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 … hereby proclaim an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba.

The move was a final step after the Eisenhower administration had restricted some trade between the two nations. In its global standoff with the Soviet Union, the United States considered the presence of a Russian ally so close to its borders unacceptable. The embargo, America hoped, would weaken and eventually topple the Castro regime. It didn’t, and 52 years later, the embargo has long outlasted the USSR and the Cold War itself.

Kennedy didn’t undertake the measure, by the way, without some forethought. According to his press secretary, he put in an order for 1,200 H. Upmann Cuban cigars before closing off trade. Presidential foresight can be a powerful thing.