Cubans walk under a Pope Francis billboard in Havana, Sept. 14, 2015. CNS photo/Enrique de la Osa, Reuters

Support rises for end to Cuba embargo

  • September 18, 2015

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States comes as people and politicians in both countries increasingly support ending an economic embargo that has been in place for more than five decades.

U.S. President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro and the Vatican have called for a lifting of the embargo, which was first put in place in 1960 and repeatedly strengthened in the years since in response to growing strains between the countries.

Yet, despite public support for the embargo to end, U.S. Congress remains divided on the issue, with several bills stalled in subcommittees. Congressional approval is needed to roll back the sanctions.

Pope Francis, who helped broker a diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, could lend a powerful voice to the argument against the embargo when he addresses a joint meeting of Congress Sept. 24.

Pope Francis’ visit comes as polls in Cuba and the United States show public support growing for doing away with the embargo. A Pew Research Center poll of 2,002 adults conducted July 14-20 found that 72 per cent of respondents — including 59 per cent of Republicans — favoured ending the trade embargo, up from 66 per cent in January.

A March poll conducted for Univision Noticias found 96 per cent of Cuban adults surveyed were against the embargo, or “bloqueo” as it’s called there, and that Obama and Pope Francis were tied as the most popular figures.

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