Crying ‘Viva Fidel!’, Cubans mourn Castro
Alcohol sales suspended, flags flew at half-staff and shows cancelled
REUTERS/ Flag-waving Cuban students broke into a mass chant of “I am Fidel” to salute Fidel Castro as nine days of mourning began for the combative Cold War icon, who dominated the Communist island’s political life for generations.
Alcohol sales were suspended, flags flew at half-staff and shows and concerts were canceled after his younger brother and successor, President Raul Castro, told the country on Friday that Fidel had died, without giving a cause of death.
Giant rallies are planned in Havana’s Revolution Square and in the eastern city of Santiago to honour Castro, who died aged 90, six decades after the brothers set out from Mexico to overthrow US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Newspapers on the island of 11 million people were printed in black ink to mourn Fidel.
Instead of the usual red of the official Communist Party daily Granma, and the blue of Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth), the paper of the Communist youth.
“For me, it’s my mother first, my children, my father, then Fidel,” father-of-five Rafael Urbay, 60, said as he manned a government photo and printing store in downtown Havana, remembering his early years spent on a remote island off the mainland with no drinking water.
“We weren’t just poor. We were wretched,” he said. “Then came Fidel and the revolution. He gave me my humanity. I owe him everything.”
There was no heightened military or police presence to mark the passing of the epochal revolutionary leader, and at Havana University, Castro’s alma mater, hundreds of students gathered to wave huge Cuban flags and shout “Viva Fidel and Viva Raul.”