April 7 - Cubans celebrate Good Friday, a newly sanctioned government holiday. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
For the first time in more than half a century, Cuban Catholics celebrated a government-sanctioned holiday on Good Friday (April 6) as they marked the end of Holy Week with a procession to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. The holiday, granted at the request of Pope Benedict on his recent visit to the communist island, allowed Catholics to take the day off. The streets of Havana were filled with scores of Cuban faithful solemnly accompanying a statue of Christ carrying the cross, recognized in Catholicism as the first "Station of the Cross". Thirteen other stations follow, depicting moments from Christ's crucifixion, including when Jesus falls for the first time and when his body is removed from the cross. The Cuban government ended religious holidays after the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power. He reinstated Christmas as a holiday in 1998 at the request of visiting Pope John Paul and his successor and younger brother, President Raul Castro, declared Friday a free day following Benedict's trip to Cuba last week.