As the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that adopted revolutionary Communism for its model of political development, Cuba stands separate from other Latin American nations. The revolution of 1959 and its subsequent radicalization attracted the interest of students of politics as well as that of policy makers, journalists, intellectuals, and ordinary people, many of whom have been inspired by the Cuban example. In addition, the central role played by Fidel Castro from the beginning of the revolution is key to understanding developments in Cuba in the years since he and his followers came to power. Under his leadership, Cuba became an influential actor in regional politics engaged in an unusual degree of revolutionary activism. Fidel personified his country to observers the world over, but his own transformation from an impetuous young revolutionary to an aging dictator parallels the course of the revolution itself, despite efforts by his brother and successor, President Raúl Castro, to “adjust” or “update” certain parts of the system.