1990-2015 Questioning and Change
From 1962 until 1990 the Soviet Union underwrote the Cuban economy with an annual subsidy of $4 billion. The end of the Soviet Union brought about an economic crisis in Cuba, which forced the Revolutionary Government to allow economic autonomy to small farmers, artisans, and skilled workers, and to initiate partnerships with foreign corporations based in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Tourists began flocking to Cuba, and practitioners of the popular music that blossomed before the Revolution came out of retirement. After the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in 1998, laws marginalizing religious practices, including Afro-Cuban religions, were relaxed. But writers and artists like Zoé Valdés and Carlos Acosta leave the country if they can. The restoration of US-Cuba diplomatic relations initiated by Presidents Barak Obama and Raúl Castro on 17 December 2014 may bring about changes in Cuba difficult to foretell.