Cas­tro’s ashes taken to cra­dle of revo­lu­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The con­voy car­ry­ing the ashes of Cuba’s late com­mu­nist leader Fidel Cas­tro ends an is­land­wide jour­ney in the cra­dle of his revo­lu­tion for a big cer­e­mony be­fore his burial. The flag-draped cedar urn left Ha­vana on Wed­nes­day, pass­ing roads lined with peo­ple chant­ing “I am Fidel!” and mak­ing daily stops on the way to San­ti­ago de Cuba in the east­ern end of the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro, who took over when his brother fell ill in 2006, will de­liver a much-awaited speech dur­ing a mas­sive trib­ute with for­eign dig­ni­taries on Satur­day evening. Cap­ping a nine-day mourn­ing pe­riod, the re­mains will be in­terred dur­ing a pri­vate cer­e­mony on Sun­day at the Santa Ifi­ge­nia ceme­tery, where 19th cen­tury in­de­pen­dence hero Jose Marti is buried.

Fidel Cas­tro’s death on Novem­ber 25 at age 90 has fu­eled dis­cus­sions about his divi­sive legacy and the di­rec­tion that the coun­try may take with­out the om­nipresent leader who ruled for al­most half a cen­tury. Tear­ful sup­port­ers have cheered Fidel Cas­tro for the free ed­u­ca­tion and health care he spread in the is­land, while de­trac­tors call him a bru­tal dic­ta­tor who im­pris­oned dis­si­dents and ran the econ­omy to the ground.

‘Farewell, co­man­dante’

Peo­ple put up posters of Cas­tro as San­ti­ago pre­pared to greet the con­voy. “He has been the father of all Cubans and all the peo­ple in need in the world,” said Mar­garita Aguil­era, the 54-year-old di­rec­tor of a state to­bacco com­pany who painted the words “farewell, co­man­dante” on stone.

Enediel Ro­driguez, 50, was help­ing to make prepa­ra­tions Fri­day in a pub­lic hall where peo­ple will be able to watch the ar­rival of the jeep with the ashes be­fore they go out on the street. “He will rest in San­ti­ago de Cuba be­cause Marti is our na­tional apos­tle and this was his idea, to rest here next to him,” Ro­driguez said. The gov­ern­ment had al­ready led a huge rally with two dozen for­eign pres­i­dents in Ha­vana on Tues­day, but San­ti­ago holds a spe­cial place in Cas­tro’s life.

On July 26, 1953, the Cas­tro broth­ers launched a failed at­tack on the Mon­cada mil­i­tary bar­racks in the city, some 900 kilo­me­ters east of Ha­vana. While the rebels were jailed, it put Cas­tro on the map and he would even­tu­ally go into ex­ile in Mex­ico. “Con­demn me, it does not mat­ter,” the trained lawyer had fa­mously said at his trial. “His­tory will ab­solve me.”

— AP

BAIRES: A wo­man holds a por­trait of Fidel Cas­tro af­ter his ashes passed through the east­ern Cuba town.

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