Fact Sheet: U.S. Assistance to Cuba Promoting Human Rights Through Humanitarian Aid

Cuba’s future must be freely determined by the Cuban people. Sadly, that has not been the case for decades, and it is not the case today. The people of Cuba deserve the same rights, freedoms and opportunities as anyone else. And so the United States is going to continue supporting the basic rights of the Cuban people.
- President Barack Obama, December 19, 2011

The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people. By the Cuban government’s own account, the U.S. is one of Cuba’s principal trading partners. In 2012, the United States was Cuba’s largest supplier of food and agricultural products, and Cuba was the U.S.’s 43rd largest export market. The top U.S. commodity exports to Cuba in 2012 were chicken, corn, and soybeans.

In 2012, U.S. companies exported $465 million in agricultural products, medical devices, medicines and humanitarian items to Cuba. In that year alone, the United States authorized over $546 million in private humanitarian assistance in the form of gift parcels filled with food and other basic necessities, as well as non-agricultural and medical donations. President Obama has eased restrictions on travel and the sending of remittances, which are estimated to total $2 billion per year.

Did You Know:

The U.S. is one of Cuba’s principal trading partners.

In 2012, the United States was Cuba’s largest supplier of food and agricultural products.

U.S. Exports and Re-Exports to Cuba

Since February 3, 1962, Cuba has been under economic sanctions designed to prevent funding the repressive activities of the Castro regime. However, current regulations do not prohibit sales of food, medicine and medical devices to Cuba, nor the provision of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people. In fact, the United States is one of the leading providers of humanitarian aid to the island. Some categories of U.S. commodities that may be authorized for export to Cuba include:

  • Medicines and medical devices;
  • Telecommunication equipment to support the free flow of information to, from, and within Cuba;
  • Items for news bureaus and groups that promote democracy;
  • Sales and donations of agricultural commodities to individuals, governmental, and non-governmental organizations; and
  • Certain aircraft and vessels on “temporary” sojourn to Cuba.

Web Resources

For more information about U.S. Assistance to Cuba, visit:

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