On March 26, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba. The three-day visit came after years of tension between the church and the Cuban government. It was the first papal trip since Pope John Paul II visited 14 years ago. During his visit, Pope Benedict XVI, pushing for Cuba toward freedom, said, "I am convinced that Cuba, at this moment of particular importance in its history, is already looking to the future, and thus is striving to renew and broaden its horizons."
Around 200,000 attended the Mass in Santiago de Cuba, including people from as far as Miami. However, many attendees said they were pressured to attend by employers or members of the Communist Party. One attendee was removed by security after he started shouting negative comments about the government.