News24

Pope ends Latin America trip

2012-03-29 08:27

Havana - Pope Benedict XVI left Cuba on Wednesday, heading home at the end of his first trip to Spanish-speaking Latin America which also included a visit to Mexico.

His plane left the Jose Marti airport in Havana at 17:40, AFP journalists saw, after he gave a brief speech in which he told President Raul Castro that no one should face limitations on "basic freedoms".

The 84-year-old pontiff called for the "building of a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled".

"May no one feel excluded from taking up this exciting task because of limitations of his or her basic freedoms," Benedict said.

But the pontiff also slammed the "unfair burden" of the half-century US economic embargo on Cuba.

Such "restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country unfairly burden its people", he said, wrapping up a two-day visit to the Caribbean island.

Relations between Cuba and the United States have been cold ever since revolutionary icon Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959 and established a communist state on the US doorstep.