December 13, 2011. (Romereports.com)
Cuba's doors were opened for John Paul II in January of 1998. Thousands
of people received him in the capital of Havana, shouting “we can feel
it, the pope is present”.
Fidel Castro came to meet him dressed in civilian clothing. The pope did not hesitate in asking that Cuba be opened to the world and the world opened to Cuba. He also condemned the U.S. embargo against Cuba and it's adverse effects on the poor.
It was a five-day visit in which the pope helped plant a seed of freedom and helped thousands of Catholics reaffirm their faith.
The trip included stops in Havana, Santa Clara, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. He celebrated four large Masses, as well as meeting with young people, intellectuals, religious and the sick. The visit was especially important for the crowning of Our Lady of Charity as the patroness of all Cubans.
Dissenters claimed the visit helped to give more oxygen to the regime of Fidel Castro, while others said the pope had managed to limit any political manipulation.