2000: WPI Sponsors First Cuba Conference

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.