"Cuba under Fidel Castro remains a hard-line communist state, with a poor record on human rights that has deteriorated significantly in 2003. With the cutoff of assistance from the former Soviet Union, Cuba experienced severe economic deterioration from 1989 to 1993. While there has been some improvement since 1994 as Cuba has implemented limited reforms, the economy remains in poor shape. Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions. The principal tool of policy remains sanctions, which were tightened with the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) in 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act in 1996. Another component of U.S. policy consists of support measures for the Cuban people, including private humanitarian donations and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba. While there appears to be broad agreement on the overall objective of U.S. policy toward Cuba -- to help bring democracy and respect for human rights to the island, there are several schools of thought on how to achieve that objective. Some advocate maximum pressure on the Cuban government until reforms are enacted, others argue for lifting some U.S. sanctions that they believe are hurting the Cuban people, and still others call for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations by lifting the U.S. embargo."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31740