Embargo: countries left behind

In this file photo taken May 1, 1998, a worker holds up a sign condemning the US economic embargo against the communist nation during the traditional Labor Day parade in downtown Havana. AFP

PARIS — Cuba, living under a US embargo for six decades, is one of many countries to have been targeted by sanctions since the end of World War II.

Embargoes have become a weapon of choice in response to war, the fight against terrorism or human rights violations.

Here are some typical cases:

North Korea

Washington imposed a strict embargo on North Korea in June 1950 at the start of its war with the South.

In 2008, the administration of George W. Bush removed North Korea from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism, lifting old sanctions, but imposing new ones in the face of the risk of nuclear proliferation.

The United Nations has also imposed a series of sanctions since 2006, which have been tightened over the years, in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.


At the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Washington imposed a trade embargo on the communist country.

Nearly two decades after the conflict ended in 1994 and eight years after Vietnam’s transformation into a market economy, US President Bill Clinton lifted the embargo, hoping it would help determine the fate of missing US soldiers.

An arms embargo imposed during the war was lifted in 2016.

South Africa

The international community began to sanction South Africa’s racist apartheid regime after the deadly suppression of the Soweto uprising in 1976.

The UN imposed an arms embargo the following year and an oil embargo in 1985, which was lifted in 1993.

The then European Economic Community, the Commonwealth, and countries like the United States also imposed sanctions. Apartheid was officially abolished in 1991.


The United States and its allies imposed a strict embargo on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The only exemptions were for foodstuffs, medicines and basic necessities.

The hitherto prosperous oil-producing country could only export crude under the internationally supervised oil-for-food program.

For 12 years before then-President George W. Bush ordered an invasion in 2003, Iraqis lived under rationing and starvation wages. Iraq’s once healthy GDP has been cut in half and many factories have been forced to close.


In 1997, President Clinton banned trade with Sudan, accused of human rights abuses and supporting terrorism.

The only exception was gum arabic – a key ingredient in chewing gum – of which Sudan is the world’s largest exporter.

The embargo was lifted in 2017.


After the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Western countries imposed an arms embargo on China.


Libya was made a pariah by the international community in the late 1980s, accused of supporting terrorism.

Tripoli was held responsible for the bombing of a US plane over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 in which 270 people died and a French UTA plane in Niger the following year, which killed 170 people.

In 1992-1993, an air and military embargo was imposed, reinforced by economic and financial sanctions.

Following the normalization of relations with the West in September 2003, and the announcement by Tripoli of the cessation of the development of weapons of mass destruction, the last sanctions were lifted.

The country then descended into chaos after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and an arms embargo was imposed.


On April 7, 1980, Washington severed diplomatic relations with Iran and imposed a trade embargo in response to the storming of its embassy in Tehran and the taking of American hostages.

In 1995, a total economic embargo of the United States was decreed by Clinton, who suspected Iran of trying to build an atomic bomb. Companies investing in Iran’s oil and gas sectors have also been sanctioned.

A series of international sanctions, targeting key sectors such as defence, oil and finance, were imposed from 2006 with the aim of making Tehran renounce its nuclear ambitions.

An international agreement reached in 2015 on Iran’s nuclear program collapsed when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States, reimposing harsh sanctions. Iran then reneged on its commitments to drastically reduce its nuclear initiatives.


US sanctions Cuban security minister and special forces unit for cracking down on protests

UN votes overwhelmingly to condemn US embargo on Cuba

Cuba submits latest draft UN resolution against US embargo

US tightens grip on Cuba and blocks private charter flights

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Read more

Don’t miss the latest news and information.

To subscribe to MORE APPLICANT to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

Previous Xi meets Polish, Pakistani leaders of Olympic diplomacy
Next Amid India-Iran balance, is postponed visit good news?