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Saturday, January 17, 1998 Published at 06:39 GMT



World: Americas

Castro rolls out red carpet for Pope
image: [ The Cuban people are told how to behave during the Pope's visit ]
The Cuban people are told how to behave during the Pope's visit

President Castro of Cuba has praised Pope John Paul II, days before his scheduled visit to the Communist-controlled island.

In an address to the nation, Mr Castro described the Pope as friendly, respectful and noble.

He said the Cuban government was not trying to use the visit to further its own interests.

Correspondents say this may be a reference to the Pope's opposition to the United States' embargo against Cuba, which he's expected to repeat during his five-day visit to Havana (January 21-25).

The long presentation was in part designed to educate Cubans on how to behave during the papal visit.


[ image: Castro:
Castro: "I assume all responsibility for those who have any doubts"
President Castro warned people not to carry any political placards or banners to the papal events, and to refrain from cheering for any Cuban leaders or heckling any papal statement they may dislike.

The President made it clear that the decision to invite the Pope was a personal one. He portrayed the pontiff as a crusader against the excesses of capitalism, not as a harbinger of change in communist countries.

Some in Cuba believe that the Pope was in part responsible for the fall of socialism in Poland in the 1980s.
 





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