"The death of Cuba's former long-time ruler Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016, raises questions regarding Cuba's economic and political situation and the future of U.S. policy toward Cuba. The revolutionary leader overthrew an unpopular dictatorship in 1959, but ended up imposing a communist regime that led to some social progress yet also resulted in severe human rights abuses and a feeble economy. For a small island nation, Cuba played an oversized role in international affairs under Castro's rule through its support for revolutionary movements abroad and its strong opposition to the United States. While Fidel Castro's historical legacy is significant--regardless of whether one views him positively or negatively--he has not held formal power since he stepped down in 2006 for health reasons and was succeeded by his brother Raúl Castro, Cuba's long-time defense minister. Raúl has concentrated on making changes to Cuba's economic model by introducing some market-oriented reforms, but he has kept tight control over the political system."
CRS Insight, IN10616
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html