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Cuba: Issues for 111th Congress

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Congressional rept.

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Cuba, which remains a hard-line communist state with a poor record on human rights, commemorated the 50th anniversary of its revolution on January 1, 2009. Cubas political succession from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raul in 2006 was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. After Raul Castro officially assumed the presidency in February 2008, his government announced a series of economic changes that included lifting restrictions on the sale of some electronic consumer products and cell phones. A major reform effort has focused on the agriculture sector in an effort to boost food production. While additional economic changes are likely, there has been disappointment that further reforms have not been forthcoming. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, which is backed up by a strong security apparatus. Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the communist nation through economic sanctions. The Bush Administration tightened sanctions significantly in 2004 through increased restrictions on travel to Cuba, especially family travel. A second U.S. policy component over the years has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including private humanitarian donations, U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba Radio and TV Marti, and support for human rights and democracy on the island. In light of Fidel Castros departure, two broad approaches to policy have been advanced continue to isolate the Cuban Government while supporting the Cuban people and changing attitudes within the Cuban Government and society through increased contact and engagement. On April 13, 2009, President Barack Obama followed through with his campaign pledge to allow unlimited family travel and remittances to Cuba, to increase telecommunications links with Cuba, and to expand the scope of eligible humanitarian donations through gift parcels.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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