"Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country's political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment begun in October 2010. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that could increase the private sector. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system, although it has reduced the number of political prisoners over the past several years, including the release of over 125 since 2010 after talks with the Catholic Church. [...] Strong interest on Cuba is continuing in the 112th Congress. The House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 Financial Services appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, would roll back President Obama's actions easing restrictions on remittances and family travel, while the Senate Appropriations Committee version, S. 1573, does not contain such a provision. Both bills would continue to clarify the definition of 'payment of cash in advance' for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba during FY2012, while S. 1573 would also prohibit restrictions on direct transfers from a Cuban financial institution to U.S. financial institution in payment for licensed U.S. agricultural and medical exports to Cuba."
CRS Report for Congress, R41617