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Protests in Cuba. How will the US respond?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, kicking off your week. A little Quick Take. Thought I would talk about Cuba, not a country we talk about all that often. Communist state, Raúl Castro just stepped down, and the biggest demonstrations across the entire country in decades. Talking about absence of vaccines, problems in healthcare, but also anger at the poverty, the economic mismanagement, the reality of the lack of liberty of living in a communist regime.

The Trump administration had put pretty significant sanctions back on after Obama tried to loosen up. I expect that this is going to make Cuba a bigger issue for lots of folks in the United States that would like to see the back of this Cuban regime. The question is, how does the United States try to address it? Does it shut the Cubans down even harder, make the country pay economically for the fact that they are treating their people so badly or does it use this as an opportunity to open up? I'll tell you.

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What We’re Watching: Castro steps down, US sanctions Russia, a crescent-shaped critter in Krakow

A Castro-less Cuba: Raúl Castro, younger brother of the late Fidel, is expected to retire on Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's ruling communist party. When he does, it'll mark the first time since the 1959 revolution that none of Cuba's leaders is named Castro. The development is largely symbolic since Castro, 89, handed over day-to-day affairs to President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018. It's worth noting that US sanctions laws do specify that one of the conditions for normalizing ties with Cuba is that any transitional government there cannot include either of the Castro brothers. So that's one less box to tick in case there is a future rapprochement across the Straits of Florida. But more immediately, we're watching to see whether a new generation of leaders headed by Díaz-Canel will bring any serious reforms to Cuba. COVID has killed the tourism industry, plunging the island into an economic crisis that's brought back food shortages and dollar stores reminiscent of the early 1990s.

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