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Friday, January 23, 1998 Published at 12:41 GMT

World: Monitoring

Cuban radio hails Pope's visit
image: [ Pope John Paul II and Cuban leader Fidel Castro ]
Pope John Paul II and Cuban leader Fidel Castro

Text of commentary by Cuban radio on 23rd January

The people of Havana, representing the rest of the country, have awarded an impressive and warm welcome to Pope John Paul II on his arrival in our capital.

Tens of thousands of Cubans lined up along the Pope's route all the way to the Apostolic Nunciature in this city to cheer the Holy Father, who appeared pleased and spirited by the warm-hearted popular welcome.

[ image: Thousands gathered to hear the Pope give mass]
Thousands gathered to hear the Pope give mass
There have been commentaries and articles on yesterday's events at the Cuban capital. We just want to comment on and to analyse this important moment in the history of Cuba and the Catholic Church.

The world media have said much about heavens and about the possibility that the presence of the Holy Father in the so-called communist bulwark of the Caribbean will make the miracle of leading Cuba back to the darkest period of its history, when it was a US neo-colony totally subjugated by the powerful neighbour.

The United States was unable to prevent the Holy Father from visiting Cuba and to tell him how to behave in line with US interests.

This is an essentially pastoral visit, but it cannot be uncoupled from the tremendous political significance it has, because until now, Cuba was the only Iberian-American country the Pope had not visited.

The United States wanted to capitalize on this true situation to use it as another source of pressure on the Cuban people to break our resistance.

Some theatrical spokesmen of the continent's most reactionary circles had said that as long as the Pope did not come to Cuba, the Cuban revolution would be sort of excommunicated and subjected to anathema.

The presence of His Holiness in Cuba has destroyed with a single blow all the sap and destabilization work that went on with regard to relations between the Cuban state and the Holy See.

Cuba's enemies have not been able to hide their animosity because lies and slander are beginning to be demolished ...

The enemies are seeing how truth is gaining ground and how a new type of relationship and a new era is arising and will yield very positive fruits as the world enters the new century and the new millennium.

[ image: Castro: Pope
Castro: Pope "deserves support of Cubans"
President Fidel Castro has explained in detail and profoundly why Pope John Paul II deserves the respect and support of our people. He said that he could subscribe to many of the ideas the Holy Father is defending from public podiums everywhere.

The Pope's preaching neither justifies nor supports the economic policies and the globalization of principles that the world's largest economic forces are promoting with the reliable backing of the US government.

The Pope has never been on the side of exploiters, but on the side of the exploited, of the needy, and of those who live in misery, unhealthy conditions and ignorance.

This is an important point coinciding with the ideals that we Cubans defend and will continue defending to the end.

The Pope's visit to Cuba is already being seen as an important universal message for all those who claim justice, dignity and a true opportunity to participate in the construction of a better life for all the people of the world.

Source: Radio Havana Cuba external service in Spanish 0000 gmt 23 Jan 98

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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