Cry­ing ‘Viva Fidel!’, Cubans mourn Cas­tro

Al­co­hol sales sus­pended, flags flew at half-staff and shows can­celled

The Star (Kenya) - - News | World -

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.”

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