Fifty years after the United States enacted an embargo on all trade and commercial transactions with Cuba, relations between the two countries remain at a standstill. Julia E. Sweig, CFR's director of Latin American studies, says the Obama administration has prioritized domestic politics over foreign policy in its relationship with Cuba, even as Cuban President Raul Castro has been "moving in the direction of the kind of reforms that every administration over the last fifty years has called upon Cuba to make." The case of American USAID contractor Alan Gross, currently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence in Cuba (CubanTriangle) on charges of attempting to upend the regime through a U.S.-authorized democracy promotion program, has also heightened tensions, she says. Meanwhile, Sweig adds, Cuba is strengthening ties with global powers like Brazil, as well as the Catholic Church, as the Castro administration seeks to open up new economic and social spaces for its citizens...


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