A Week of Memorials for Castro Begins in Cuba
Cubans lined up Monday to pay their respects to Fidel Castro at Revolution Square in Havana as the country begins a week-long goodbye to the island’s revolutionary leader, a man many loved and many loathed.
Memorial services began early Monday after 21-gun salutes sounded simultaneously in the capital and in the eastern city of Santiago, where Castro started the Cuban revolution in 1953.
The 90-year-old Castro died Friday after a long illness. A cause of death has not been announced.
Castro was cremated on Saturday and a nine-day period of mourning was declared.
His ashes will be interred Sunday in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
Beginning Wednesday, his ashes will be carried eastward across the country, in a three-day procession that follows in reverse the route taken by the young revolutionary and his rebel fighters as they advanced on Havana from the Sierra Maestra mountains before taking power in January 1959.
Berta Soler, leader of the anti-Castro group Ladies in White said, “We are not happy about the death of a man, a human being. We are happy about the death of dictators.”
Sunday in Miami, a representative from the Ladies in White, joined with other dissident organizations in calling for unified public demonstrations Wednesday in support of democracy in Cuba.
The Ladies in White group was founded in 2003 to support husbands jailed for political opposition in the one-party nation. The group has organized weekly marches in Havana for the past 13 years.
In Miami’s “Little Havana” Cuban Americans danced in the streets to celebrate Castro’s passing, marking an official end to his controversial life and dictatorial rule. Men and women, young and old, marched and danced while others demanded a democratic future for their ancestral homeland.
Castro, raised near Santiago de Cuba, launched his revolt against the rule of Fulgencio Batista in 1953 from the southeastern city, finally +toppling the U.S.-backed leader and seizing power in 1959.
He eventually set up a one-party socialist government, which constantly defied Washington and allied itself with the former Soviet Union.
Castro handed power to his brother Raul in 2006, although he still exercised some power behind the scenes until recent years.