Newswise — For many Americans, our island neighbor — just 90 miles off the Florida coast — calls to mind images of classic cars, forbidden cigars and bearded revolutionaries — namely, Fidel Castro. As his brother Raúl prepares to step down as president, many wonder: How will Cuban politics and society change?

Richard Gioioso Ph.D., assistant professor of political science and director of Latin American studies, is available to comment on this transition.

Gioioso, who has traveled to the island to study Cuban youth for over a decade, doubts new leadership will usher in greater political or economic openness. Looking at past transitions, he sees the revolution’s continued ability to be redefined in the face of a new political era.

“The Cuban government is incredibly adaptable and resilient,” he says. “After the Soviet Union fell in the 1990s, many believed Cuba would be next. Instead, under Fidel’s charismatic leadership, the island shifted from a Soviet communist system to a new form of Cuban socialism.

“I expect we’ll see a new generation of leadership take the reigns,” says Gioioso, “but with much of the same ideas.”