When Pope Francis arrived in Cuba, the islanders really did roll out the red carpet for him. The streets were lined with devoted people who cheered the Pope's motorcade. Francis waved to the crowd with typical papal benevolence.
While Vatican insists that this is a strictly pastoral visit, it was hard to not miss the political undertones in his speech upon landing in Cuba, as it centered on U.S.-Cuba relations.
"We need reconciliation," Pope Francis stressed.
The pope is said to have played an important part in the recently normalized relations between the two rivals. The countries have been estranged since the Cold War and their relationship only just began to normalize this year. Francis was clearly impressed by the countries' decision to reopen each others' embassies. He called it an event that "fills us with hope."
Francis also called on Cuba to "open itself to the world." Indeed, there were some signs of that when the pope landed, with WiFi signals suddenly made available for Cubans to send welcome messages to Francis.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis will leave for Washington to complete his 10-day trip to U.S. and Cuba.