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Cuba Begins Week of Mourning Castro as Reactions Mixed

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A Cuban flag flies at half-staff at Revolution Square as people gather following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 27, 2016.

A Cuban flag flies at half-staff at Revolution Square as people gather following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 27, 2016.

Cuba has announced a period of mourning following the death of Fidel Castro, the communist island-nation's revolutionary leader.

Flags are flying at half-staff across the country, as Cuba enters a week filled with memorials to mark Castro's passing.

The socialist revolutionary, who had long been ill, died late Friday at the age of 90. A cause of death has not been announced.

A series of memorials begin Monday, when Cubans gather in Havana's iconic Revolution Square, where Castro often addressed adoring crowds.

Students place candles around an image of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, at the university where Castro studied law as a young man, during a vigil in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 26, 2016.

Students place candles around an image of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, at the university where Castro studied law as a young man, during a vigil in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 26, 2016.

On Wednesday, Castro's cremated remains 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.

His ashes be interred December 4 in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba at Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

In Miami Sunday, Cuba's most prominent opposition group, known as the Ladies in White, joined with other dissident organizations in calling for unified public demonstrations Wednesday in support of democracy in Cuba. Their call came as hundreds of Cuban-Americans in several areas of the U.S. city took to the streets to celebrate the demise of the communist leader.

The Ladies in White group was founded in 2003 to support husbands jailed for political opposition in the one-party island nation. The anti-Castro group has organized weekly marches in Havana for the past 13 years.

Members of the Cuban community dance in the street as they react to the death of Fidel Castro in front of the Versailles Restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Nov. 26, 2016.

Members of the Cuban community dance in the street as they react to the death of Fidel Castro in front of the Versailles Restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Nov. 26, 2016.



Elsewhere, in Miami's "Little Havana," the streets erupted in celebration for a second day, as hundreds of people marked the official end of Castro's controversial life and rule. Men and women, young and old, marched and danced while others demanded a democratic future for their ancestral homeland.

Near the museum honoring veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, crowds gathered for a second straight day in front of a famed Cuban eatery, the Versailles Restaurant, waving American and Cuban flags. Some celebrants carried photos of loved ones who either escaped totalitarian rule or were persecuted or jailed by the Castro government.

Video showed others banging pots and pans and chanting words of hope for Cuba in Spanish.

FILE - In this April 19, 2011 photo, Fidel Castro, left, raises his brother's hand, Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, as they sing the anthem of international socialism during the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana, Cuba.

FILE - In this April 19, 2011 photo, Fidel Castro, left, raises his brother's hand, Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, as they sing the anthem of international socialism during the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana, Cuba.

Castro, raised near Santiago de Cuba, launched his first failed attempt at revolution in 1953 from the southeastern city. He would go on to mount a second revolt against the rule of Fulgencio Batista, 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.

A polarizing figure throughout his life, Castro also prompted a mixed reaction in his death.

In Cuba, many mourned the loss of a man who dominated the country's politics for more than 50 years and helped foster a sense of independence and patriotism.

U.S. leaders were divided in their response to Castro's death.

President Barack Obama released a statement that was largely neutral in its reference to Castro, saying the U.S. extends its "hand of friendship" to the Cuban people. However, President-elect Donald Trump's statement called Castro a "brutal dictator who suppressed his own people for six decades."

FILE - President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive to attend a state dinner hosted by Cuban President Raul Castro (L), as part of Obama's three-day visit to Cuba.

FILE - President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive to attend a state dinner hosted by Cuban President Raul Castro (L), as part of Obama's three-day visit to Cuba.


Starting in 2014, Obama oversaw a historic warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, including the restoration of diplomatic ties.

During his presidential campaign, Trump initially said he supported that effort, but has since backed away, taking a more hawkish stance.

Trump's incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, on Sunday said Trump is "absolutely" willing to reverse Obama's opening to Cuba. Talking to Fox News Sunday, Priebus said the future of U.S.-Cuba relations depends on whether Havana makes progress on human rights.

"Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners - these things need to change in order to have an open and free relationship," Priebus said.

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