The Helms-Burton Bill: The United States' Latest Effort to Bring Democracy to Cuba?
Haight, Travis G.
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On March 12th, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, better known as the Helms-Burton Act, named for the sponsors of the bill; Senator Jesse Helms (R, NC) and Representative Dan Burton (R, IN). The period of time between the signing of the bill and the completion of this paper has been an interesting one, with heated congressional, administrative and international involvement. Before forming an opinion on the merits of this legislation, it is imperative to consider how it embodies historical, economical, political and international issues and the way in which Helms-Burton endeavors to confront these interrelated problems. Historical relations between the United States and Cuba have been far from friendly, thus it is no surprise that to this day we hold deep animosities towards one another. However, unlike many other measures we have undertaken over the years against Cuba, Helms-Burton brings some of our closest allies and trading partners into the fray causing many to wonder who exactly is hurt by this proposal. It is my goal to lay out, objectively, exactly what has and will transpire in regards to the act. It is the latest attempt by the United States government to try to influence what happens in Cuba. The problem with this move is that it is the first time we have formulated a policy that directly involves our closest allies. Helms-Burton is the climax of a continuam of events that brings us to our current position with Cuba. By briefly delving into the history of U.S. and Cuban relations, and more closely looking at the policy and politics of the bill and why there has been so much international fallout, perhaps a better understanding of the Helms-Burton legislation can be reached.