Miramar, Cuba, woman hopes U.S. will lift embargo - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Miramar, Cuba, woman hopes U.S. will lift embargo

MIRAMAR, Cuba - While thousands in Cuba traveled to Revolution Square before the sun rose Sunday morning to see Pope Francis, there were thousands more on the island who watched the mass from their living rooms. 

Up bright and early, Zenaida Benitez had her Cuban espresso ready. Her television was tuned into Cuba's live broadcast of Pope Francis' mass. 

"The people are happy because the pope represents God," said Benitez in Spanish.

Benitez is a practicing Catholic, but also has representations of saints in her home from the Afro-Caribbean religion of Santeria, also known as Regla de Lucumi. It is not uncommon to see people on the island practice both faiths. 

 "The Cuban people are religious," added Benitez.

For Cubans, the pope has taken on a dual role in Cuba. Not only is he the leader of the Catholic Church, but he's also a mediator, mending relations between the U.S. and Cuba. 

"The people have hope that the embargo will be lifted. We're anticipating more conversations between Obama and the president here and looking forward to the proposals," said Benitez. 

Benitez has a son in the U.S. who has helped the family during difficult times. Before moving to her home in Miramar, Cuba, in 1966, she lived and worked several jobs in Camaguey to care for her family of five. 

"I had to work a lot and earned very little. I tell my children that I am tired. I like to say I've been working since I was in my mother's womb," said Benitez. 

She's tried to visit her son four times. Each time she's been denied a travel visa. She agrees with Pope Francis' speech about having mercy and living in peace. She hopes his role will alleviate some restrictions on the island. 

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