Will Raul Castro embrace change more rapidly now that his brother is gone? Some have speculated that Fidel Castro was holding him back with the fervent communist ideals that he built his government around.
"I think this could go both ways," said Alana Tummino, senior director of policy and head of the Cuba Working Group at the Council of the Americas, a business organization promoting free trade and open markets.
"Raul is the leader of Cuba, and he has been the reformer in Cuba," said Tummino, who said Fidel Castro's death can give his brother space to embrace even more change. But she said she was wary: There are hard-liners in the government who caution against economic reforms on the island.
Jaime Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami, doesn't expect any changes.
"It has nothing to do with his brother. He's concerned that if he opens up internally it will subvert the system," Suchlicki said. "He's doing very limited things that don't threaten his power or the power of the elite around him."
Unlike other Cuban-Americans, Suchlicki doesn't see Fidel Castro's death as the end of an era. He pointed out that when North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il died, his son Kim Jong-un took power and that nothing changed.
Cuba blames the half-century U.S. trade embargo for its economic hardships. The embargo can't be lifted without congressional approval, but Obama has used his executive powers to relax trade and travel restrictions. In March, Obama made the first visit to Cuba by a U.S. president in 88 years.
The latest changes announced in October allow Cubans to buy certain U.S. goods online, permits Cuban pharmaceutical companies to do business with the United States and allows the United States and Cuba to conduct joint medical research.
The goal of the the policy directive and the new regulations was to make Obama's Cuba policy "irreversible." The idea was that by establishing so many relationships with Cuba, a future administration that might want to scale back would face widespread opposition.