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U.S. Firms Helped Underwrite Visit

U.S. companies have donated at least $100,000 to help underwrite Pope John II’s historic visit to Cuba, and one apparently sold the red carpet that will be rolled out for the pontiff when he arrives today.

A report this week by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which monitors business and economic opportunities in Cuba, said member companies had donated $100,000 in funds, products and services for the pope’s visit.

Part of the cash donations went to charter two 20-seat corporate jets that will fly U.S. cardinals, archbishops and bishops from Havana to each of the three provincial capitals where John Paul will say Mass, council officials said.

Among the six companies that contributed to the planes were New York-based Niagara Hobby and Craft Mart, the largest U.S. hobby company, and the Illinois-based food giant Archer Daniels Midlands.

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