Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel met on Tuesday at the Vatican with Pope Francis as part of his tour of several European countries, which also includes visits to France and Serbia, according to the Holy See. During his stay in Italy, Díaz-Canel also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, with whom he discussed the importance of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Cuba, among other issues.
The Cuban Presidency disseminated photos of the meetings on Twitter and highlighted that the meeting with Pope Francis lasted approximately 30 minutes and allowed for noting the positive state of bilateral relations. Meanwhile, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, a group of opponents of the Cuban regime demonstrated, waving flags and a banner calling for respect for human rights in Cuba.
The meeting with Parolin was also attended by Daniel Pacho, undersecretary in charge of relations with States and International Organizations, according to the Holy See. During the meeting, Diaz-Canel and Parolin discussed the situation in Cuba, the Church’s contribution in the field of charity, international issues of mutual interest, and the visit of John Paul II to the island 25 years ago.
The Catholic Church has played an important role in mediating between Cuba’s communist government and other actors. In 2014, it participated in the process of thawing relations between Cuba and the United States. The Cuban president’s tour, which runs from June 20 to 24, includes an official program in Serbia as well as meetings with authorities in European countries and other activities of interest. In addition, Díaz-Canel will participate in the Summit for a global financial pact in Paris, France, according to Granma newspaper.