Brief: Havana’s Rare Concession to Protesters

The Cuban government agreed to talks with a dissident movement after weeks of protests and a hunger strike.

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Background: For Washington, Cuba’s proximity to the United States and location at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico makes it a strategically important country. But after Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba in 1959, U.S. influence over the island nation waned, while Russian and, more recently, Venezuelan influence grew. Cuba’s economic struggles have also increased since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the regime has remained in power, in large part due to the security apparatus and minor economic adjustments, ensuring that protests in the country are rare. What Happened: The San Isidro Movement, a group of dissident Cuban artists and intellectuals, grabbed headlines earlier this month for organizing rare protests against government controls and detention of political activists. The protests were held in a park in central Havana and involved some of the group’s members going on a hunger strike. On Nov. 22, some 30 supporters of the dissidents gathered in the park and were confronted by government sympathizers, resulting in a small clash despite the presence of local police and state security. Then, on the night of Nov. 27, approximately 30 supporters of the protesters returned, and by the next day, 300 people had gathered […]

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