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HAVANA (CBSMiami) – As Pope Francis wraps up his last full day in Cuba, it seems his trip is serving as yet another reminder of what is possible, as Cubs tries to open itself up to the rest of the world after decades of isolation.
There’s no question who Pope Francis believes is responsible for Cuba’s future; the vibrant young community on the island.
He spoke with them yesterday and even with all they’ve had to deal with, the dead-end economy, the lack of freedom, this younger generation of Cubans are hopeful and ready to lead.
The Pope’s message to the Cuba’s youth was not to be afraid to dream, even if your dreams seem big.
For the island’s millennials, it’s finally beginning to feel like dreaming for a better future is not so far-fetched.
Yes, the Castro’s maintain their firm grip on power, but for 34-year-old waiter German, it’s his generation that must step up.
“I think we are the main. The main because we are the young people now and we are the ones who will be in position to make change depending of our will,” he said. “So change will also [be] up to us.”
Arianna, a 32-year-old accountant, has a brother who works at Bank of America in Miami. When asked if she would like more personal freedoms, she says it’s not an easy question to answer.
She said that she’s not political and doesn’t much care for talk of politics, but she said she’s hopeful for a better future now that relations with the United States are improving.
Just as the Castro’s are aging, so is the generation that saw their rise up.
For Pedro, who is 78, change is a little scary, especially when he says the current system works just fine.
“I like Fidel and what he has done,” he said. “I hold my hand to help because I think people have life and should help the other ones.”
But for Cuba’s youth that isn’t afraid to speak openly, something has got to give.
“It’s not working out and it’s never been working out very well so we hope that with those changes coming closer and closer each day, things will change,” said German.
Michel, 31, attended the papal mass and his remarks to the young people.
“Every morning I wake up to pray to god,” he said. “I ask, to my lord, my god, it’s necessary to change this country but we need to breathe a new freedom. It’s very important to me.”
It’s important to Michel, and to so many young people in Cuba.
Fidel Castro is 89. Raul Castro is 83. They can’t live forever, and once they’re gone a new generation of Cubans are itching for the chance to lead.