The Latest: Argentine president in Cuba as pope to arrive

HAVANA (AP) — The latest developments in Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the United States. All times local (EDT):

10:20 a.m.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez is in the Cuban capital on an official visit that coincides with a trip by Pope Francis.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry says Fernandez arrived Saturday morning and is scheduled to meet with President Raul Castro.

Fernandez plans to attend a Mass celebrated by Francis on Sunday at Havana's Revolution Square.

She has met several times with Francis, who was archbishop of Buenos Aires before he became pontiff in 2013.


10:15 a.m.

The Cuban government has launched a citywide effort to bring crowds into the streets of Havana. It's offering a day's pay, snacks and transportation to state workers who gather along the pope's route from the airport to his residence at the Papal Ambassador's home. University students also have been recruited to come out for the pope.

Participants almost universally praise the pope's role in mediating detente between the United States and Cuba, saying they hope his visit to the two countries will accelerate the process of normalization.

Fifty-one-year-old accountant Magaly Delgado says she'll turn out. In her words, "I'm going because I'm a believer and this pope interests me a lot because of all the change that he's making."

Seventy-one-year old retiree Diego Carrera says "This visit is like a breath of hope blowing over Cuba." He says that's because of the role that the pope played in the reestablishment of relations with the U.S.


4:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has departed for Cuba, starting a 10-day pilgrimage that will also take him to the United States.

The special Alitalia flight flying the pope and his entourage took off from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) Saturday. Following Cuba, Francis will visit three U.S. cities: Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.