Since Raúl Castro took the helm in February, he's rolled out a series economic changes, including allowing Cubans to buy cellphones and giving farmers profit-incentives.
A new pro-poor break-away church vexes the country's Catholic leaders, who call it a Chávez ploy.
Without Bush to rail against, Chávez will be left without a foil, say analysts.
After a series of setbacks, leftist President Hugo Chávez welcomed his conservative nemesis – Colombia's Álvaro Uribe – to a reconcilatory meeting on Friday.
The president's approval rating skyrocketed to 90 percent after the military freed 15 high-profile hostages from a jungle rebel camp.
While his Colombian girlfriend and twin sons wait, American captive Keith Stansell reaches out.