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Rome Reports

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Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012, called for more liberties and criticized the embargo

Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba for three days in March 2012, a year before his resignation. Cuban President Raul Castro received the Pope at the airport and accompanied him as he visited the cities of Santiago and Havana. The Pope gave five public speeches. His words were respectful but very direct.  "Justice, peace, liberty, reconciliation.â? Fidel Castro personally greeted the Pope in Havana.  "It is good to see you.â? "How are you?â? "I am very well because there has been a wonderful welcome.â? "I have tried to follow as much as possible through the TV.â? Benedict XVI met privately with Raul Castro in the Revolution Palace and handed him a list of political prisoners. A day later, his last words to Cuba were a plea for "Cuba to be a home for all Cubans.â? "May no one feel excluded from taking up this exciting task because of limitations of his or her basic freedoms, or excused by indolence or lack of material resources, a situation which is worsened when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people.â? The Pope had another petition for  Raul: to declare Good Friday a National Holiday. The government accepted and since they, locals have had an extra holiday.  Now, the Cuban people joke that this is another reason why they are happy that Pope Francis is visiting.  JMB/AZ CTV VM - PR Up:KLH