Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress [Updated August 8, 2006]   [open pdf - 288KB]

"Cuba has remained a hard-line communist state under Fidel Castro for more than 47 years, but Fidel's July 31, 2006, announcement that he was ceding political power to his brother Raúl 'for several weeks' in order to recover from surgery could be the beginning of a political transition, whether Fidel returns to power or not. Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions, which have been significantly tightened by the Bush Administration. 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 Cuba until reforms are enacted; others argue for lifting some U.S. sanctions judged to be hurting the Cuban people; and still others call for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32730
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