Cuba, however, was the subject of an even more intransigent foreign policy because of its proximity and historical ties to the United States. Consequently, the economic sanctions imposed in the early 1960s and the lack of diplomatic ties have been the most visible features of the U.S. policy towards Cuba since Castro took power. (Spanier, 1983, pp. 110-113).
The demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s changed the political calculus underpinning U.S. foreign policy. Cuba, in particular, now posed little danger to vital, or even important, U.S. interests. In fact, without its Soviet sponsor, the Cuban government could do little to stem the increasing economic problems afflicting its people. By the middle years of the 1990s, many within and without the U.S. government began suggesting relaxation of the now traditional policies, particularly the economic sanctions. Others, however, urged no relaxation of the U.S. stance until Cuba renounced its communist government. These advocates pushed the Helms-Burton and Cuban Democracy Acts (discussed below) through Congress in the early 1990s.
President Clinton and members of his administration have repeated the assertion of previous U.S. administrations that the United States has a vital national interest in the affairs of Cuba. Such an interest is what drives U.S. policy towards C