Setting up definitions, an embargo is a restriction on commerce, esp. a government order prohibiting the movement of ships into or out of its ports, or restricting certain freight for shipment. A blockade is the closing off of a port, city, etc., by an enemy to prevent anyone from coming in or going out.
Did the U.S. ever blockade Cuban ports? Yes, President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to enforce a “strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba” during the missile crisis on October 22, 1962, as the USSR faced off with the U.S. over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. That one-and-only naval blockade ended less than one month later on November 20, 1962.
From 1962 until his death, Fidel Castro fostered a myth of a U.S. naval blockade as the cause of poverty in Cuba. Facts run contrary to the myth.
Cuba has always had open trade with other nations and Cuba has enjoyed extensive trade with our nation. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), “Since the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) was implemented in 2000, the United States has exported nearly $5 billion worth of agricultural products to Cuba. These exports have been supported by the close geographical proximity of the United States to Cuba and the island’s strong demand for U.S. agricultural products. The United States has typically been the largest supplier to Cuba and has had the highest market share of the island’s imports in nine out of the last 11 fiscal years.“
Another myth was the origin of the name ‘Granma’ that became the banner of the Cuban Communist Party official news service.
Following his victory over Batista, Castro carved out a new province he named after his revolutionary yacht Granma.
My Cuban friends are surprised to learn that yacht Castro purchased from an American in Mexico was named Granma by the American to honor a grandmother.
I quote: “Fidel purchased the boat with $15,000 US provided by Cuban-Americans living in Florida. Fund-raising was coordinated by Carlo Prío Socarrás, a former Cuban president living in exile.”
For most of the years since his victory over Batista, Castro has been generally successful in deflecting responsibility for the extreme poverty and tyrannical oppression by propping up a false narrative of the ‘evil’ U.S.A. that maintained a blockade around Cuba.