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Following Pope John Paul II’s groundbreaking 1998 visit to Cuba, the revolutionary government selectively allowed the renewal of religious street processions. The gradual church-state détente continued in the 2000s as each institution promoted a new generation of pragmatic leaders. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2012 visit to Cuba to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the finding of the Virgin’s effigy occasioned public Masses in the revolutionary plazas of Santiago and Havana. Memorable utterances and performative gestures from previous street events form a ritual repository from which public event planners and attendees draw in order to organize, execute, and interpret “popular” participation and claim legitimacy. Cubans’ subjectivity is defined, in part, by their attendance at iconic street gatherings, as well as the conflict they experience and combinations they forge between these events in the street.

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