"Cuba remains a hard-line Communist state, with a poor record on human rights. Fidel Castro has ruled since he led the Cuban Revolution, ousting the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959. With the cutoff of assistance from the former Soviet Union, Cuba experienced severe economic deterioration from 1989-1993, although there has been some improvement since 1994 as Cuba has implemented limited reforms. […] Others argue for an approach, sometimes referred to as constructive engagement, that would lift some U.S. sanctions that they believe are hurting the Cuban people, and move toward engaging Cuba in dialogue. Still others call for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations by lifting the U.S. embargo. Numerous measures were introduced in the 106th Congress that reflected the range of views on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Legislative initiatives proposed both easing and increasing sanctions against Cuba. In the end, legislation passed reflected both approaches: it allowed the export of food and medicine to Cuba, but prohibited any U.S. financing, both public and private, of such exports. Travel to Cuba for tourism was also prohibited. Another law facilitated enforcement of anti-terrorism judgments in U.S. courts to allow for the payment of a $187.6 million 1997 judgment against Cuba to be paid from Cuba's frozen assets in the United States to the families of three U.S. citizens killed when Cuba shot down two U.S. planes in 1996. President Clinton waived the provision, however, upon signing the rest of the bill into law."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30628