This Day in the Law
October 19

U.S. Imposes Embargo on Exports to Cuba (1960)

On October 19, 1960, the United States officially imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba, excluding food and medicine.

In January 1959, the U.S. officially recognized the Cuban government led by Fidel Castro. In February 1960, the U.S. signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union where the Soviet Union agreed to buy certain items from Cuba and supply Cuba with oil. However, President Dwight Eisenhower cancelled much of Cuba’s sugar imports. As a result, Cuba seized U.S. property and discriminated against U.S. imports.

On this day, October 19, 1960, the U.S. responded to Cuba’s actions by imposing an embargo on Cuban exports. The U.S. reduced the importation of Cuban sugar to zero, refused to accept many Cuban vessels in American ports, and extended the embargo on many types of U.S. firms attempting to do business in Cuba.

The U.S.-Cuban relationship continued to deteriorate. In January 1961, the U.S. restricted all travel to Cuba. In April 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred. In February, 1962, the U.S. banned nearly all imports from Cuba. Congress later passed laws restricting trade and other forms of commerce with Cuba.

Today, the U.S. maintains a comprehensive embargo against Cuba, and other countries such as Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan. However, the U.S. has lifted some of the embargoes against Cuba and allows certain products to be traded with Cuba. The U.S. also acts as a large exporter to Cuba.