The US was angry that Fidel Castro had nationalized US corporate property on the island and distributed property owned by US corporations to the people of Cuba. The issue was that US corporations owned much of Cuban land and resources, yet Fidel and Che believed that independence , social justice and equality was not possible in Cuba without land reform and redistribution – although they did acknowledge that compensation should be provided.
The embargo (or el bloque as it is called in Cuba) began as a ‘tit for tat’ series of events. The US- owned oil refinery in Cuba refused to process Soviet oil, so Fidel nationalised the refinery. In response the US stopped importing sugar – which had serious economic consequences for Cuba. In response Fidel nationalised all foreign-owned property and industry. The US embargo was the angry response to this. A song to capture this could go along the lines of ‘well we’ll show’ em’ where both sides refuse to give in and up the stakes to assert their power see scene 5b. This could also be reprised (repeated) right at the end where we come back to Cuba in the present and the embargo has been relaxed. Fidel is reportedly very competitive – perhaps his response might be ‘we showed’em’!
Another way to illustrate the US embargo is to show the response of the UN community to the embargo. The UN General Assembly has condemned the embargo declaring it violates the Charter if the United Nations and human rights. For example in the 2014 General Assembly of the UN there was a vote of 188 in favour of an end to the US embargo on Cuba, with only the US and Israel voting against. This song may work well towards the end of the musical showing a UN assembly vote on embargo – for example each country sings ‘I do‘, and each harmonious ‘I do’ adds to the others to form barbershop quartet style, then America says bluntly ‘I DON’T!’ – feel free to use or adapt this idea if it appeals to you.