This report describes the main issues and developments in U.S. policy toward Cuba. "Cuba remains a hard-line communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country's political succession from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. Fidel stepped down from power temporarily in July 2006 because of health reasons, and Raúl assumed provisional control of the government until February 2008, when he officially became President. After Raúl Castro officially assumed the presidency, 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. The economy was hard hit by storms in 2008 that resulted in $10 billion in damages, and the current global financial crisis is causing further strains. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, which is backed up by a strong security apparatus."
CRS Report for Congress, R40193