Cuba After Fidel Castro: U.S. Policy Implications and Approaches [Updated September 1, 2006] [open pdf - 105KB]
"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. Over the past few years, there has been increased speculation about Cuba's future without Fidel, who turned 80 on August 13, 2006. While previous predictions about Fidel's imminent demise proved premature, his recent surgery and advanced age make the date of his permanent departure from the political scene all the closer. Before his recent surgery, observers discerned several potential scenarios for Cuba's future after Fidel. These fit into three broad categories: the continuation of a communist government; a military government; or a democratic transition or fully democratic government. According to most observers, the most likely scenario, at least in the short term, is a successor communist government led by Raúl Castro. This is the most likely scenario for a variety of reasons, but especially because of Raúl's official designation as successor and his position as leader of the Cuban military. For further information, see CRS Report RL32730, Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress; CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances; and CRS Report RL32251, Cuba and the State Sponsors of Terrorism List."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33622