Heavily Roman Catholic Latin America is mourning the death of Pope John Paul, who made his first papal visit to the region shortly after becoming the Church's spiritual leader.
His first visit to Latin America was in early 1979, when he made stops in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. In later years, the pope traveled to countries such as Chile, Venezuela, Jamaica, Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In January 1998, Pope John Paul traveled to Cuba. During his historic visit to the communist country, John Paul celebrated open-air Masses with Catholics there and met privately with Cuban President Fidel Castro. While in Cuba, the pontiff called for the release of dissidents as well as an end to the decades-long U.S. embargo against the island.
On Friday, in a rare television appearance, Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega informed Cubans that the pope was on his deathbed. The cardinal paid tribute to the pope as a man who carried the moral weight of the world during 26 years.