"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. In 2013, Raúl began his second and final five-year term, which is scheduled to end in February 2018 [...] Castro has implemented a number of market-oriented economic policy changes over the past several years. An April 2016 Cuban Communist Party congress endorsed the current gradual pace of Cuban economic reform. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. While the government has released most long-term political prisoners, short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly over the past several years. [...] Congress has played an active role in shaping policy toward Cuba, including the enactment of legislation strengthening and at times easing various U.S. economic sanctions. U.S. policy over the years has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions, while a second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S. government-sponsored broadcasting and support for human rights and democracy projects. In December 2014, President Obama announced a major shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, moving away from a sanctions-based policy toward one of engagement and a normalization of relations. [...] The policy change included the restoration of diplomatic relations; the rescission of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of international terrorism; and an increase in travel, commerce, and the flow of information to Cuba."
CRS Report for Congress, R43926
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html