WEST NEW YORK - Pope Francis has kicked off his visit to North America by stopping in Cuba, and former political prisoners who have since come to the United States are following the story carefully.

One Cuban dissident, Luis Israel Abreu, is now living in West New York.

He was held in Fidel Castro's political prison from the age 28 until he turned 42.

He says he was tortured in captivity.

"The world don't know...what is happening in Cuba," Abreu says. He says that he's disappointed that Pope Francis hasn't set aside time to meet with dissidents. Several were arrested Sunday after approaching the pope in Havana, Cuba's capital.

Abreu has a message for the pope. "Please help us to get some freedom," he says. "You are fighting for a better life for the world. We are part of the world, no? We want you to intercede to stop the repression, to respect human rights in Cuba."