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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — History's first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday, bringing a message of solidarity with the region's poor, who are expected to turn out in droves to welcome their native son home.
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Pope Francis headed to Quito Sunday to begin his first South American trip in two years, for an eight-day tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay highlighting the plight of the poor on his home continent. The 78-year-old pontiff from Argentina, the first pope from his "beloved South America," left Rome early Sunday and was due to land in Ecuador's capital Quito at 3:00 pm (2000 GMT). Francis's last visit to South America was a triumphant trip to Brazil in 2013 that culminated with some three million people gathering in Rio de Janeiro along Copacabana beach for a mass at the end of a Catholic youth festival.