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Introduction

A street entertainer waits for tourists in Havana, August 25, 2009. Desmond Boylan / Reuters

Leftist revolutions against right-wing authoritarian regimes in the developing world were not uncommon in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement had parallels elsewhere. In the decades since Castro toppled Fulgencio Batista’s regime in 1959, however, most of the rest of the world has moved on—even as the communist regime Castro established has remained in place. And for more than half a century, implacable hostility between revolutionary Cuba and its huge capitalist neighbor to the north has been a constant feature of life in the Americas. At least, until now.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s pursuit of better relations with Cuba, which is currently led by Fidel’s brother Raúl, has been one of the more interesting and unexpected elements of U.S. diplomacy in recent years, culminating in a historic visit by Obama to Havana this spring. It remains unclear just how far and how fast the opening will proceed and just what changes will eventually come to Cuba—which has remained so disconnected from much of the world for so long, preserved like a fly in amber. But we at Foreign Affairs decided that the time was right to take stock of this remarkable relationship and offer this collection to put the dramatic events of recent months in proper perspective. From the revolution to the rapprochement, Foreign Affairs has been there watching and covering the drama, and these highlights of our coverage make for fascinating reading.

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