Credit O Cinema

There were no steadicams in 1964, no lightweight cameras or drone-cams.  Perhaps that's why film lovers watching “Soy Cuba” for the first time get understandably excited by what has become known as the “hotel shot.”   At the start of the film, a camera pans across the upper decks of a Havana hotel during a beauty contest, then descends straight down to the pool level as if held by ghostly hands.  The camera pans across bathing beauties basking in lounge chairs, then actually goes underwater in the hotel pool.

Jeffrey Cardenas/Yanela Piñeiro

  The photo exhibit "Cómo lo vemos a Usted (y cómo nos ven)" was already under way when Cuba and the United States announced last December that the two countries would resume diplomatic relations.

The show -- in English, "How We See You (And How You See Us)"  — opened nine days after that historic announcement, showing at National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. On Thursday, Oct. 1, it opens for its first showing in the U.S., at The Studios of Key West.

Alex Castro / AP

The first three days of Pope Francis' whirlwind binational trip took him to the home of a world famous communist leader and through the streets of a little-known Cuban town.

The pope's message of embracing change found its literal representation in the further opening of Cuba, which has spent decades shrouded in secrecy, to media outlets and TV screens worldwide.

His three-day visit to the communist island ended Tuesday and was immediately followed by his arrival in Washington, D.C. and a welcome from President Obama. It is the first U.S. visit for the 78-year-old pope. 

Alessandra Tarantino / AP

Just as Cuba prepares for its first papal visit in 17 years -- one laden with questions of human rights, religious devotion and the future of normalizing relations -- the Obama administration released a new set of trade rules Friday morning in an effort to further thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations.

The rules will take effect Monday, and aim to weaken the U.S. trade embargo imposed on the island nation since 1962.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Pope Francis' arrival in Cuba was met at Havana's Plaza de la Revolución by 300,000 spectators who braved the heat Sunday morning to hear the Holy Father deliver Mass and talk about the need to serve. 

"The importance of one person is always based on how they serve the frailty of their brothers," the pope told the assembled crowd. "In this we find one of the true fruits of humanity. Because, brothers and sisters, those who don't live to serve, do not have a life worth living."

Tim Padgett /

As Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Cuba on Sunday, Cuban-Americans did the same here in South Florida – but most prayed that the Pope would convince Cuba’s communist leader, Raúl Castro, to adopt more democratic reforms on the island.

At La Ermita Roman Catholic church in Coconut Grove – a shrine to Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity – Sunday morning Mass was standing-room-only. And many had just finished listening to Pope Francis’ homily live from Havana on Spanish-language radio.

Courtesy St. Thomas University. Image appears in "The Catholic University of Havana" by Fr. John J. Kelly

In 1961, a year before St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens opened as Biscayne College, the school's founding president, Fr. Edward McCarthy, was in prison. 

"With people with machine guns, submachine guns, following our every move," he said in a 1989 interview with St. Thomas University professor Richard Raleigh, of the auditorium-turned-prison in Havana, Cuba where he was being held.

John O'Connor / WLRN

Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba and the United States is being closely watched by students at a school that once moved from Cuba to South Florida.

Hundreds of Belen Jesuit Preparatory students gathered before classes Friday morning to send prayers to Pope Francis before his arrival in Cuba.

The first Latin American pope will celebrate Mass in three Cuban cities before continuing on to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba this weekend showcases the island’s Roman Catholic recovery after half a century of communism.

But that narrative is misleading. In reality, Catholicism wasn’t all that vibrant in Cuba before communism.

C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

The first pope from Latin America is visiting Cuba later this month. Pope Francis will be the third pope to visit the Communist dictatorship since Pope John Paul II visited the nation in 1998.

Accompanying Pope Francis on the trip will be Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. Wenski spoke with WLRN about the church's relationship with Cubans. Here are five things we learned:

The church has done a lot of bridge-building since 1998.