Cuba Project History



The Cuba Project sponsored a daylong conference in June 2000, “The Domestic Economic Impact of U.S. Unilateral Food and Medical Sanctions: Case Study Cuba.” More than 120 members of Congress and their staff and representatives from corporations, labor, and the media attended the conference in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, hosted by then U.S. Senator John Ashcroft, who was a leader in the push to ease the embargo on sales of U.S. food and medical products. At the conference, former International Trade Commission chair and respected economist Dr. Paula Stern issued the first study of the domestic economic impact that lifting the embargo would have on specific regions, states, and actors in the U.S. economy. Dr. Stern’s study, The Impact on the U.S. Economy of Lifting the Food and Medical Embargo on Cuba, published under the auspices of the institute, found that allowing unrestricted sales of food and medical products alone would bring $1.6 billion and 20,000 jobs to the U.S. economy. The study also found that these economic gains would primarily benefit the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Basin areas, some of the most economically depressed regions of the United States. The study and conference contributed greatly to a law passed in the fall of 2000 to lift the food and medical embargo against Cuba, the first legislative victory to roll back the embargo since it was instituted in 1962. 

Official Summits 

On September 17, 2002, the World Policy Institute cosponsored the first National Summit on Cuba at the National Press Club in Washington. The National Summit brought together more than 380 national leaders and 48 speakers to explore how changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba could better serve our national interests. Bush administration representatives attended and spoke at the conference. On day two of the summit, 500 Cuban Americans participated in a daylong educational effort to share their views on U.S. policy with members of Congress and the administration. 

On October 4, 2003, the project organized another summit, the National Summit on Cuba: Florida Summit, which was held in Miami in conjunction with a consortium of Cuban American organizations in favor of increased dialogue with Cuba. Keynote speaker Mikhail Gorbachev came to Miami to support these moderate Cuban Americans, who view the embargo as impeding their ability to participate in an evolving Cuba and thwarting the long-overdue process of national reconciliation. Gorbachev’s point of view was captured in a Washington Post op-ed piece he penned, “The Last Wall,” which ran the day of the summit. The project later brought all sides of the debate from within that important community together for a panel discussion/debate in New York in February 2004 and soon thereafter replicated the event on Capitol Hill with the support of various members of Congress who camefrom both sides of the debate.

The 2004 was held in Tampa, FloridaNational Summit on Cuba focused on Florida and the impact of renewed commercial ties between the United States and Cuba. More than 30 speakers presented including: U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho); U.S. Representatives William Delahunt (D-MA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Butch Otter (R-ID); (Ret) General John Sheehan, former Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in charge of Guantanamo Bay during the last refugee crisis; Ambassador Pete Peterson, the first U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam and a former Florida Congressman; FC Stone, Crowley Liner Services, diplomats, chambers of commerce, and port authority representatives among other distinguished speakers. FOX National News Anchor Rita Cosby moderated the day's program.


The last National Summit on Cuba was held in Mobile, Alabama on June 10, 2005 and presented diverse, nationally recognized speakers on current U.S.- Cuba commercial relations and policy. The Summit focused on the impact of the U.S.-Cuba estrangement on the American South and presented fresh data on past and potential future trade, we also educated our audience on the broader factors inherent in the ongoing policy debate.

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