Fidel Castro Receives Farewell in Santiago de Cuba

By Guillermo Nova and Andrea Sosa Cabrios (dpa)

Raul Castro address the masses in Santiago de Cuba on the evening of December 3, 2016.
General/President Raul Castro address the masses in Santiago de Cuba on the evening of December 3, 2016.

HAVANA TIMES – Hundreds of thousands of people with little Cuban flags and photos of Fidel Castro gathered on Saturday evening in the Antonio Maceo Square in Santiago de Cuba for the final farewell to the former president, whose ashes were buried in a private ceremony on Sunday  morning.

“Fidel taught us that it was possible, yes you can and yes you can,” said Raul Castro, visibly moved, to the audience. “He taught us that one could resist without renouncing the principles and achievements of socialism.”

The event, the culmination of a four-day caravan of his ashes from the capital to eastern Cuba, was attended by the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; Bolivia, Evo Morales; and Daniel Ortega, as well as former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and former soccer legend Diego Maradona, among others.

“Uu aaa, Fidel is not leaving” and “Raul, my friend, the people are with you”, “I am Fidel” and “Raul is Fidel” were the slogans that were heard over and over again in the square of the colonial city of southeastern Cuba. The Cuban president was greeted with shouts of “Raul, Raul”.

Castro recalled in his speech the difficult moments that the country experienced during the 1990s, when Cuba entered a severe economic crisis after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and said that at that time and others of his life Fidel Castro “never lost faith in victory.”

The wooden urn with the ashes arrived Saturday to Santiago de Cuba at the end of a of a 4-day, 600-mile journey from Havana, in several stages, during which it passed through towns and cities on a platform attached to a military jeep.

Starting Wednesday thousands of people took to the streets to watch the caravan pass, to the cry of “I am Fidel, I am Fidel”. On Tuesday night a memorial had already taken place with foreign dignitaries in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The urn with the ashes of Fidel Castro. Photo: Ladyrene Pérez/ Cubadebate
The urn with the ashes of Fidel Castro. Photo: Ladyrene Pérez/ Cubadebate

“Tell me in what country is a president given a sendoff like this,  Cubans pay tribute to who deserves it, and Fidel deserves a farewell like this and more,” said Matías Gonzalez, a bus driver who transported people to the event.

“It’s historic, one day I’ll be able to recall that I was here,” said Carlos Martinez, a 16-year-old student in his school uniform.

The former Cuban president, a historical figure with fervent defenders and staunch critics, died on Friday November 25 at age 90. His remains were buried Sunday in a simple ceremony, according to Raul Castro, in the cemetery of Santa Ifigenia of Santiago de Cuba, where Cuban national hero Jose Marti is also buried.

“This is history. Fidel is very big in Latin America, that’s why we have a lot of respect for him,” said Juan Martín Cambra, an Argentinean who was close to the Kirchner movement, and who bought a plane ticket with other friends because they did not want miss the historic moment.


12 thoughts on “Fidel Castro Receives Farewell in Santiago de Cuba

  • December 6, 2016 at 6:42 pm
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    Fidel was a master repression and control. His ability to eliminate friend or foe with razor effiency on equal. But you are correct when he applied his inflated sense of self to economics, one disaster after another followed. His failed sugar harvest record initiative that contributed to collapse of agriculture sector just one example.

  • December 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm
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    Another guile-less statement. The Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba has for some fifty six years images of Fidel Castro as ‘a man of the people’ as if he scorned wealth and lived a simple life. Why abandon that myth when his remains a casket of ashes could be used to further promote that image?
    I for one was not an ‘enemy’ of Fidel Castro, but despised most of his actions as a dictator, his arrogance and the deceits which he practiced upon the people of Cuba.
    Fidel Castro’s wealth is undeniable. how else the 27% shareholding in ETECSA, the two island retreat of Cayo Piedra with his yacht Aquarama II?

  • December 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm
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    Billionaire? Fidel owned an entire country! Lots of stuff about the Castros doesn’t square. So what’s new?

  • December 5, 2016 at 12:11 pm
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    Strange. That doesn’t quite square with the assertion by his enemies that Fidel was a millionaire, digo, billionaire. If he were anything close to it he would have been transported in a new Mercedes, or at least a well-maintained Yipi.

  • December 4, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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    Not surprisingly, the jeep carrying the cremated remains of the Cuban dictator broke down a few kilometers from the cemetery in Santiago de Cuba and had to be pushed by the soldiers accompanying the motorcade. Clearly symbolic of the broken down system that Castro should be blamed for, it is also worth noting that the Cubans lined up along the route on the way to the cemetery after the breakdown took place were nonplussed. The Cuban onlookers kept waiving flags and chanting Viva Fidel!

  • December 4, 2016 at 8:18 pm
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    The passing of Fidel to history frees the country to move on with a more pragmatic course.

  • December 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm
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    So the current Cuban dictator Raul Castro Ruz says that his predecessor as dictator, his BIG brother Fidel, “never lost faith in victory”. Fidel Castro was undoubtedly victorious in imposing communism upon the people of Cuba. His victory was at their cost. Average earnings after fifty eight years of Fidel and Raul Castro’s dictatorship being under the equivalent of $21 per month. Freedom of expression limited to giving praise to the cult of the personality with portraits of Fidel, Raul and Che Guevara plastered on the walls of every classroom, every Municipal, Provincial and National office and hoardings littered around the country extolling the virtues of the ideas emanating from the minds of geriatric generals. An educational system directed to promoting: “the patriotic education and communist training of the new generation” and control of information to ensure that the people remain ignorant of alternatives to communist dictatorship.
    Where was the hope for improved standards of living, for opening up to the outside world, to developing a vibrant productive economy, to allowing freedom of expression and opportunity for the people of Cuba to determine their own future?
    Fidel Castro’s ‘socialismo’ has proven to be a disaster for the people of Cuba. Who writing in these pages seeks to live in conditions similar to those which the Castros have imposed upon the people of Cuba. People who live in the free societies can openly express their views on these pages – but when was a comment posted here from Cuban citizens living in Cuba.?

  • December 4, 2016 at 11:51 am
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    What’s up? Does “Little Havana” have you by balls?

  • December 4, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    More like 50+ years of mourning for Freedom, Civil Rights, and Property Rights.

  • December 4, 2016 at 10:09 am
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    Sadly, Fidel went to the place that Jesus Christ three times described as “outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the worm [of decay] does not die, and the fire is never quenched.”

    And that for eternity.

  • December 4, 2016 at 9:55 am
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    If we can STOP blaming human beings for the situation our greed and lust puts them in. Fidel’s death will not be in vain.

  • December 4, 2016 at 9:38 am
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    Now that his remains have been buried, a more balanced recounting of the Castro legacy can debated. His countless victims will have their say as well. His failings in the Cuban economy, international follies and his moral flaws manifested in his personal life are sure to come to the surface. He asked that History would absolve him. Given the tyranny of the Castro dictatorship, absolution may be a reach.

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