Six years after the death of Fidel Castro, his brother and fellow leader of the island's 1959 revolution, Raúl Castro, is being watched to see if he fulfills his commitment to give up the reins of the only political organization permitted in the country of 11 million people.
Politics among Cuban Americans are not as simple as data makes them seem. These two voices from Miami represent the opinions that polls can't reflect.
Over the last few years, the Cuban government has been experimenting with turning state enterprises into cooperatives and letting the workers own and run them. They're seen by some as a way of opening the country up to capitalism and privatization while maintaining some of the revolution’s collectivist ideals. And so far, Cubans seem to like them.
President Barack Obama’s December 17 announcement that he would begin normalizing relations with Cuba sparked hot debate on both sides of the Florida Strait. It also began a political process that won’t end until a highly fractious Congress can agree on new legislation, not likely to happen any time soon. Among other obstacles is the long-questioned human rights record of the Castro regime. Independent watchdog organization Freedom House says Cuba falls just shy of its “worst of the worst list” for denying its citizens political rights and civil liberties.
He's a symbol of a political victory for President Barack Obama: Former Cuban prisoner Alan Gross will be a guest of honor at the State of the Union address Tuesday. Gross was released after the US and Cuba negotiated a deal to normalize relations.
The US and Cuba supposedly negotiated in secret for more than a year to bring about a thaw between the two countries. They weren't the only ones, though: Pope Francis also helped the two longtime enemies conduct their back-channel diplomacy.
Cuba is home to several dozen American fugitives, including bank robbers, mass murderers and cop-killers. Life may change for them when relations between the US and Cuba grow warmer.
"There's a palpable excitement here," says author Peter Kornbluh from Havana, as word broke of US-Cuban talks to normalize relations. "This is a new dawn ... and I think everybody here has realized that almost immediately."
Cubans may not be jamming into fleets of makeshift rafts like they did in 1994, but the number of people trying to leave the island for the US is still surprisingly high. That's even despite routes that may take them as far south as Ecuador in their quest to enter the US.
Julia Cooke traveled to Cuba over five years, and her new book dives into the world of young Cubans.
One of Nelson Mandela's own heroes, boxer Baby Jake Matlala, died just two days after the former South African president. While those two may be meeting in heaven, down here, people are analyzing Mandela's memorial service — from Obama's handshake with Castro to a man who pretended to interpret the ceremony for the deaf. And China tries a positive spin on its pollution, all in today's Global Scan.