Thousands of Cubans on Monday paid heartfelt tribute to the legendary revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in a solemn and tearful ceremony at Havana’s Revolution Square.
A woman holds a photograph of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro before entering the Jose Marti Memorial to pay her tributes, in Havana, capital of Cuba, on Nov. 28, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
The tribute is part of a national period of mourning for the leader who ruled Cuba for nearly half a century, and is considered to have continued the legacy of national hero Jose Marti, whose memorial stands in the square.
Average Cubans, as well as government and communist party officials, filed past photographs of Castro dating from the late 1950s, when the young commander led the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Mourners were silent, tearful or weeping as they paid tribute to Castro on a sunny morning in Havana. Many children, men and women cried, while others acknowledged the late leader with a military salute.
“I have been here since 3 a.m. because I want to salute Fidel one last time. We must continue with great conviction what he did for the Cuban people,” retiree Cila Miret told Xinhua.
Miret met Castro in 1960, during a rally the former president held at the same square where today thousands bid him farewell.
“Fidel always wanted to be with the people, and I remember he hugged me and kissed me as he did to hundreds of people that were there that day,” she added.
People of all ages were lined up around the square to pay their respects to the man who so influenced the lives of millions in this Caribbean nation.
“The best tribute to Fidel is to carry on his ideas. He gave his life so that all Cubans could have basic rights, like education and health,” said high school student Carlos Martinez, who was standing in line along with a large number of his friends.
Many of those in line held pictures of Castro, while others brought flowers or simply a Cuban flag as a way to show their affection for the late leader.
“I will defend Fidel’s ideas and legacy until my last breath, because he was a man that gave our nation and people back their dignity,” said Teresita Gonzalez, a public-sector employee.
Others underscored Castro’s unique personality, and his impact on global politics and international affairs during the Cold War era of hostile relations with the United States.
“He stood out from the rest of the leaders around the world and turned Cuba into a model of solidarity, social justice and international cooperation,” said Sofia Rodriguez.
While Castro passed away at the age of 90 late Friday night, his ideas will endure for many years to come, many of those paying tribute indicated.
“I decided to bring my two-year-old daughter, because they (the children) are the future of Cuba. I want her to see and understand who Fidel was and what she can do to help the revolution continue,” said Yanet Ricardo, as she was about to enter the memorial, with her child in her arms.
The tribute will continue through 10 p.m. Monday, and on Tuesday.
Leaders across the globe have expressed their condolences and admiration for one of the great figures of the 20th century, whose leadership brought unprecedented development to this corner of the Caribbean.