The growth of opposition in Cuba: Problems and prospects for democratization

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Felipe Aguero - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Jaime Suchlicki - Committee Member


The proliferation in the size and strength of Cuba's opposition movement is evidence that important changes are taking place on the island. The end of the Cold War and the initiation of the Special Period brought significant economic, political and social challenges for the Castro regime and the continued viability of the Cuban Revolution. In the 1990s these troubles were exacerbated by a significant proliferation in the number of opposition groups and activities. In the last several years we have also witnessed a substantial increase in the diversity and substance of opposition initiatives and proposals, and the growth of international support networks. Together these developments demonstrate important qualitative advances for Cuba's dissident movement and its prospects for democracy on the island.Drawing on comparative analysis of transition studies, civil society and opposition theories, this dissertation examines the character and nature of opposition development in Cuba. In particular, this research explores the strength of the opposition movement, the environment in which it operates, the role of international support networks, and the Catholic Church. In doing so this study demonstrates that the success of opposition is not only dependent on its own size and strength, but sometimes also requires additional external support to survive and effect change. The 1999 Ibero-American Summit in Havana and the March 2003 crackdown marked important turning points in the opposition's development. These events unleashed an unprecedented degree of international condemnation for the Castro regime indicating significant transformations in the international arena. The early 1990s also brought changes in the regime's relations with the Catholic Church, and revealed new church activism and a revival of membership.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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