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US sanctions on Cuba burden Cuban people: Pope

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Pope Benedict XVI with Cuban leader Fidel Castro (R) during a meeting on March 28, 2012 in Havana

Pope Benedict XVI has denounced the US economic embargo on Cuba, saying such punitive measures “unfairly burden” the ordinary Cuban people.

“Restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country unfairly burden its people,” the pope said on Wednesday in reference to US economic sanctions, without mentioning the United States by name.

The pontiff, who was preparing to leave Cuba at the end of a three-day pastoral visit, also said that he was convinced that wherever Jesus Christ is present “discouragement yields to hope, goodness dispels uncertainties and a powerful force opens up the horizon to beneficial and unexpected possibilities.”

Before his departure, Benedict celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Plaza where tens of thousands of Cubans had gathered, and later held a private meeting with Cuba’s revolution leader Fidel Castro in Havana.

Washington placed a trade embargo on the Caribbean island nation in 1960, a year after Castro overthrew the US-backed Fulgencio Batista regime.

The Vatican has repeatedly condemned the 50-year-old US sanctions on the island nation.

Cuba was the last stop on the pontiff’s five-day Latin American trip that began last week in Mexico.


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