Cuba After Fidel Castro: U.S. Policy Implications and Approaches [Updated September 2, 2006]   [open pdf - 128KB]

"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. 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 scenarios are: the continuation of a communist government; a military government; or a democratic transition or fully democratic government. According to most observers, the most likely short term scenario is a successor communist government led by Raúl Castro. This 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. In the new context of Fidel's transfer of power, there are two broad policy approaches to contend with political change in Cuba: a stay-the-course or status-quo approach that would maintain the U.S. dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people; and an approach aimed at influencing the Cuban government and Cuban society through increased contact and engagement. 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 and S.3769 (Ensign)."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33622
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