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The Supreme Court's takeover of Venezuela's parliament and spillover from a dysfunctional economy are causing neighboring countries to speak up against its authoritarian moves.
The streets of Havana have been bustling as Cubans prepare for the first visit by a US president in nearly 90 years. Still, many remain cautious about what it will mean for them.
The Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church hope to overcome a millennium of division to find a way to protect the ancient Christian communities persecuted by groups like Islamic State.
Countries in Central America are grappling with rising numbers of Cubans trying to reach the US. The exodus appears driven by concerns that preferential US policies for Cuban migrants may expire.
Though the pope has reached out to dissidents in Cuba and urged Raul Castro to reform, experts say it is unlikely to yield immediate results – but he still may plant seeds for later change.
The Catholic Church has been playing an increasing role in providing basic services to Cubans – giving it leverage to push the government to improve human rights.
The Cuban leader said Pope Francis' focus on the needs of the poor is luring him back to the church.
President Obama is in Panama this weekend for the Summit of the Americas, where he'll meet with regional leaders who have grown increasingly determined to assert autonomy from the US.
On Thursday, Cuban and US diplomats conducted their highest level talks since Cuba's communist revolution. Now, expectations are high for full diplomatic relations to be restored.
US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will be at the Summit of the Americas in Panama later this week. The State Department has completed its review of Cuba's inclusion on the US list of terrorism sponsors.
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