Many Cuban-Americans leave S. Florida for Cuba

Posted at 11:39 PM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 23:39:13-04

Airport crews at Jose Marti International Airport expect a busy day Saturday as more flights get into Havana for Pope Francis' visit.

Many of those traveling are Cuban-Americans from South Florida who have never been to the island.

One flight after another, travelers packed Miami International Airport terminals for Havana, Cuba.

"We're hoping that we can be in solidarity with the Catholic community in Cuba," said Maria Arazora who traveled with an adult pilgrim group with the Miami Archdiocese.

For the first time in her life, Arazora was born in the U.S. but is of Cuban descent. What makes this trip so special for her, she's taking her mom, who left the island 55 years ago.

"It's very exciting, we have the stories, not only of the struggles now of my parents generation when they exiled," said Arazora.

Arazora is taking her 21-year-old daughter who is also seeing Cuba with fresh eyes.

"We've grown up knowing a lot about the culture of Cuba with stories and our own vision of what the island was while my parents were there and so for us it's like coming home, perhaps a part of us that we don't know yet," added Arazora.

As a catholic, Arazora's hope is that this papal visit will create positive changes for the church in Cuba and for the Cuban people.

"That the pope delivers a message that inspires them and gives them faith and optimism for a free Cuba at some point and at least a better standard of living," said Arazora.