Accessibility links

Cubans Gather to Honor Fidel Castro

  • VOA News

People wave Cuban flags as they attend a massive tribute to Cuba's late former president, Fidel Castro, in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 29, 2016.

People wave Cuban flags as they attend a massive tribute to Cuba's late former president, Fidel Castro, in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 29, 2016.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans — civilians and officials — gathered Tuesday night in Havana's Revolution Square to honor their late leader, Fidel Castro.

The crowd chanted "Long live the revolution!" and "Fidel! Fidel!" as leftist Latin American allies and other leaders from the region and Africa joined the commemoration.

People wait in line to pay tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro at the Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 29, 2016.

People wait in line to pay tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro at the Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 29, 2016.

Castro died Friday night at age 90. A cause of death has not been announced.

Beginning Wednesday, his ashes will be transported 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.

This combo of three file photos shows Fidel Castro, from left; smoking a cigar in Havana, Cuba, April 29, 1961; speaking to the media while on a mission to collect Elian Gonzales in Washington, D.C., April 6, 2000; and at his Havana home on Feb. 13, 2016.

This combo of three file photos shows Fidel Castro, from left; smoking a cigar in Havana, Cuba, April 29, 1961; speaking to the media while on a mission to collect Elian Gonzales in Washington, D.C., April 6, 2000; and at his Havana home on Feb. 13, 2016.

"It's a kind of symbolic closure to his rule. … The Castro era began with the triumph of the revolution and Fidel's march across the country. Now he's gone and they retrace that route, and the Cubans of this era have a chance to say goodbye," William LeoGrande, an American University professor of Latin American politics, told AP.

Memorial services began Monday in the capital and in the eastern city of Santiago, where Castro started the Cuban revolution in 1953.

Students file past a tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Nov. 28, 2016.

Students file past a tribute to Cuba's late President Fidel Castro in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Nov. 28, 2016.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and South Africa's Jacob Zuma were at the rally Tuesday.

But reports said few major world heads of state were traveling to the Caribbean island. Many countries were sending second-tier senior officials to pay homage.

Marian Martin (L) and her sister Chanel (R) kiss a portrait of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro after paying tribute to Castro along with their mother at the Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square in Havana, Nov. 29, 2016.

Marian Martin (L) and her sister Chanel (R) kiss a portrait of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro after paying tribute to Castro along with their mother at the Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square in Havana, Nov. 29, 2016.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called Castro a "true friend of Russia," said he needed to focus on preparing a major speech and was not traveling to the island.

White House officials said President Barack Obama asked deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the president's nominee to be ambassador to Havana, to represent the United States at the late Cuban leader's funeral.

Students wait in line in front of an image of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro before paying tribute to Castro in Santiago de Cuba, Nov. 28, 2016.

Students wait in line in front of an image of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro before paying tribute to Castro in Santiago de Cuba, Nov. 28, 2016.

Castro's body was cremated Saturday, and a nine-day period of mourning was declared. His ashes will be buried Sunday in Santiago de Cuba.

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 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.

FILE - Cuba's President Raul Castro (r) next to his brother and former President Fidel Castro during the closing ceremony of the Cuban Communist Congress in Havana, April 19, 2011

FILE - Cuba's President Raul Castro (r) next to his brother and former President Fidel Castro during the closing ceremony of the Cuban Communist Congress in Havana, April 19, 2011

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG