The government of Cuba will pardon 3,522 prisoners within the next 72 hours in the lead up to Pope Francis' visit, it was announced Friday. The country made a similar gesture in 2012, during the visit by Pope Benedict.
Those people pardoned include young people under 20, people over 60, chronically ill people and foreigners, authorities said. The reason people were sentenced, their behaviour in prison, and their sentence were also taken into account.
However, they added that no prisoners with sentences for murder, other violent crimes or drug trafficking will be released.
The Vatican has said the pope will bring his vision of a Catholic approach to family life, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba during his visit Sept. 19-22.
The Argentine pontiff is expected to meet with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. After his visit to the island he will continue his tour of the United States. He is expected to play a critical role in brokering the diplomatic situation between Washington and Havana.
Francis will be the third pope in a row to visit the Cuba, which officially became a secular state following the 1959 revolution.
The pope will also meet with the island's president Raul Castro. The two met previously early this year in Rome.
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