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For Cuban youths, revolution means more free expression

Many believe Fidel Castro's resignation will allow more space for debate.

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The artist stands outside the National Capitol building, the most visible landmark on Havana's crumbling skyline, puts three pieces of glass on the sidewalk, and places a scuba mask over his face.

The video performance, titled "Crossing the Sea at Night," is just a few minutes long, consisting of a series of simulated swimming strokes.

Its provocation is subtle. But its public forum and theme – given widespread emigration to the US by sea – are part of a social critique by a group of young artists, poets, sculptors, and rappers seeking to spur dialogue in a nation where newspapers and television often reflect a state-approved reality.

After nearly half a century at Cuba's helm, Fidel Castro's resignation has ushered in a sense of expectation that more opportunities for free expression are on the way – already, President Raúl Castro has relaxed bans on buying cellphones and DVDs.

But for many Cubans this is far from sufficient. And nowhere is hope for change more fervent than among the island's young adults, who never experienced the hardships prior to the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. Instead, they have grown up in an era of asceticism as the Soviet Union collapsed and its funds for Cuba dried up. They have been told over and over to be patient, to have faith, that change will soon come.

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