Cuba: Issues for the 111th Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Cuba remains a hard-line communist state with a poor record on human rights. The countrys political succession from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raul was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. Fidel stepped down from power in July 2006 because of health reasons, and Raul assumed provisional control of the government until February 2008 when he officially became President. His government has implemented limited economic policy changes, but there has been disappointment that further reforms have not been forthcoming. The economy was hard hit by storms in 2008 and the global financial crisis has caused further strains. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including private humanitarian donations, U.S.-sponsored broadcasting to Cuba, and support for human rights activists. In light of Fidel Castros departure as head of government, many observers have called for a re-examination of sanctions policy. In this new context, two broad approaches have been advanced an approach that would maintain the dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people and an approach aimed at changing attitudes in the Cuban government and society through increased engagement. The Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on family travel and remittances eased restrictions on telecommunications links with Cuba restarted semi-annual migration talks and initiated talks on resuming direct mail services. The Administration has also strongly criticized Cubas human rights situation, including the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February 2010 and the repression of peaceful protests and dissent.
- Government and Political Science