Cubans in Mi­ami party af­ter death of Cas­tro

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Cuban-Amer­i­cans who loathed Fidel Cas­tro cel­e­brated tire­lessly Sun­day to mark his death, danc­ing, singing and honk­ing car horns for the sec­ond full day. Crowds first spilled into the streets of Lit­tle Ha­vana Fri­day night as news of the 90-yearold rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader’s death in Cuba spread. The rev­elry has not stopped since. “I’m not tired of cel­e­brat­ing be­cause I can’t be­lieve it. I never thought that this mo­ment would ar­rive,” said a woman named Delsy who de­clined to give her last name. She cel­e­brated with a large crowd out­side the Cafe Ver­sailles, where ex­iles met in the Cold War’s hey­day to plot the over­throw of the Cas­tro regime. Some two mil­lion Cubans live in the United States, nearly 70 per­cent of them in Florida. The vast ma­jor­ity of those live in Mi­ami and many saw Cas­tro as a bru­tal tyrant.

Streets that had been closed be­cause of the fes­tive crowd re­opened Sun­day as au­thor­i­ties tried to re­store a sem­blance of nor­mal­ity. But then they had to close them down again. Among the ca­coph­ony of car horns, drums, loud mu­sic and singing, a chant rang out: “Fidel, you tyrant, take your brother too!” Fidel Cas­tro may be gone, but his younger brother Raul, 85, re­mains in power as pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­cas’ only one-party Com­mu­nist-run state. A rally de­mand­ing free­dom and demo­cratic re­forms in Cuba has been con­vened for Wed­nes­day in Lit­tle Ha­vana.

It will co­in­cide with the start of a four­day pro­ces­sion in which Cas­tro’s re­mains will be taken around the is­land of 11 mil­lion for peo­ple to pay their re­spects. “The tyrant is dead but the tyranny con­tin­ues,” said ac­tivist Orlando Gu­tier­rez of the Cuban Re­sis­tance As­sem­bly. Sev­eral blocks to the east, the pop­u­lar Ball & Chain salsa night­club of­fered dis­counts and a new drink: “Adios Fidel” (Farewell Fidel).The place was burst­ing with peo­ple Satur­day night. The street out­side, full of Cuban restau­rants and bars, was packed with late-night pedes­tri­ans and cus­tomers. At a nearby cor­ner, Cuban re­tirees sat out­side, en­joy­ing the warm and hu­mid night as they dis­cussed the is­land’s fu­ture.

“Now we Cubans have hope that with­out Fidel, com­mu­nism will fall, and if God al­lows it, we can re­turn to our free coun­try,” said Vi­cente Abrez, 65. How­ever, Leti­cia Gallo, a 44-year-old ther­a­pist who ar­rived in Mi­ami from Cuba seven years ago with a young son, doesn’t be­lieve Cas­tro’s death will im­me­di­ately change much. Still, “it’s light at the end of the tun­nel,” she said. A small group of women from the Ladies in White move­ment-founded by the wives and other fe­male fam­ily mem­bers of for­mer Cuban po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers-marched on Sun­day on a street named for them in Mi­ami.

Pray for Cuba

An es­pe­cially large crowd gath­ered for mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Char­ity, the pa­tron saint of Cuba, where Mi­ami Arch­bishop Thomas Wen­ski led the Satur­day ser­vice. “Fidel Cas­tro has died. Now he awaits the judg­ment of God, who is mer­ci­ful but also just,” Wen­ski said, urg­ing the faith­ful to pray “for peace for Cuba and its peo­ple.” The Mass was solemn and the scene far from cel­e­bra­tory. Some women wiped away tears. — AFP

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