"People are treating the Pope as a head of state," she reports. "They're saying 'It's good that someone of his stature is coming to Cuba,' but a lot of these people aren't religious. Remember, the country has been atheist for more than 30 years."
In unimpeded conversations with ordinary Cubans, Drummond found widespread opposition to the U.S. embargo — although few expect the Pope to get it lifted. Most, however, believed the visit would boost Castro: "People on the streets seem to be very much in favor of the revolution," she says. "They have many complaints about their everyday difficulties, but on the whole most people I've spoken to seem very much in favor of the present form of government." And this week, they'll have unprecedented U.S. airtime to state their views.