Pope Francis publicly thanked Raul Castro for two things just ahead of their private meeting, and the cameras were rolling.
"I want to thank you for the warmth of the reception...I also want to thank you for the pardons.”
The Cuban government pardoned more than 3,500 prisoners ahead of the Pope's visit to the island. A similar move was made before two previous papal visits, though with just a fraction of the number of prisoners.
The recent meeting between Pope Francis and the president's brother Fidel also occurred without any microphones present.
"He wrote me a dedication.”
He was referring to the book that Fidel Castro gave him earlier in the day. The meeting with Raul lasted just under an hour. As they left the Palace of the Revolution, the Cuban leader showed the Pope a large Christ nailed to a cross made of oars.
Minutes later, the Pope stepped into the Popemobile and headed for the Cathedral of Havana. He was met by enthusiastic crowds, who were clearly happy to see him.