No stat­ues for Fidel Cas­tro, but his im­age is ev­ery­where

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

While Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro has promised that no mon­u­ment will be erected in mem­ory of Fidel, his brother’s im­age has been plas­tered across state me­dia since his death. Cas­tro said the na­tional assem­bly would ful­fill the late com­mu­nist leader’s dy­ing wish by pass­ing a law to pro­hibit erect­ing stat­ues or mon­u­ments in Fidel’s name, or nam­ing streets or parks af­ter him.”The leader of the rev­o­lu­tion re­jected any man­i­fes­ta­tion of a cult of per­son­al­ity,” he told tens of thou­sands of peo­ple at a rally Satur­day night be­fore his brother was buried in the eastern city of San­ti­ago de Cuba. “His at­ti­tude was con­sis­tent un­til the fi­nal hours of his life, in­sist­ing that once he died, his name and his im­age would never be used to de­nom­i­nate in­sti­tu­tions, plazas, parks, av­enues, streets or other pub­lic places.” His ashes were en­tombed on Sun­day inside a large, round stone with a sim­ple plaque read­ing “Fidel” dur­ing a pri­vate fu­neral at a ceme­tery where other na­tional icons are buried.

The sober fu­neral con­trasted with the week-long tributes and the larg­erthan-life im­age Fidel Cas­tro pro­jected from the time he swept to power in the 1959 rev­o­lu­tion un­til an ill­ness forced him to hand power to Raul in 2006. Gen­er­a­tions of Cubans grew up watch­ing him on tele­vi­sion or in the flesh at the mas­sive ral­lies he held across the is­land to de­liver hours-long speeches. He was seen cut­ting sug­ar­cane, show­ing off his pizza-mak­ing skills, play­ing base­ball and mon­i­tor­ing emer­gency re­sponses to hur­ri­canes.

Af­ter he was forced to hand power to Raul fol­low­ing emer­gency in­testi­nal surgery in 2006, he re­mained a pres­ence through col­umns he wrote in the of­fi­cial news­pa­pers. He spo­rad­i­cally ap­peared in pub­lic or in pictures along­side pres­i­dents vis­it­ing him at his house. But since his death at age 90 on Novem­ber 25, his im­age has been ubiq­ui­tous. Cuban tele­vi­sion has aired around-the-clock footage show­ing him dur­ing the var­i­ous stages of his life from his bearded rebel days to his ag­ing years, in­clud­ing his fa­mous speeches.

Posters of the bearded rev­o­lu­tion­ary adorn bal­conies, win­dows and walls. A song ti­tled “Rid­ing with Fidel” by the pop­u­lar singer Raul Tor­res con­stantly plays on tele­vi­sion and the ra­dio. The com­mu­nist party news­pa­per, Granma, called him the “eter­nal co­man­dante.” Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple lined the streets of the is­land, hold­ing his pic­ture and chant­ing “I am Fidel!” as a con­voy took the cedar urn con­tain­ing his ashes on a four-day trip from Ha­vana to San­ti­ago’s ceme­tery. Many call him a “fa­ther” of the Cuban peo­ple. “His mem­ory will cast a shadow over Cuba for a long time,” said Ted Pic­cone, se­nior fel­low at the Wash­ing­ton-based Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion think-tank.

‘I have him at home’

For his 90th birth­day in Au­gust, the is­land’s me­dia launched a cam­paign called “Fidel among us” with ar­ti­cles, pictures, doc­u­men­taries and in­ter­views re­lated to Cas­tro. One univer­sity de­vel­oped an epony­mous smart­phone app pro­vid­ing bi­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, quotes and fa­mous anec­dotes-on an is­land with very limited in­ter­net ac­cess. Al­though none of Cuba’s 285 mu­se­ums is solely ded­i­cated to him, Cas­tro fea­tures in sev­eral of them, in­clud­ing Ha­vana’s Rev­o­lu­tion Mu­seum, which con­tains a sculp­ture of the late co­man­dante. One plaque in Ha­vana with an im­age of Fidel Cas­tro flanked by his com­rades-in-arms adorns the cor­ner of a build­ing where he once gave a speech, but that’s the clos­est thing to a statue of him. Many Cubans sup­port their max­i­mum leader’s re­fusal to erect a statue of him­self. “It was his wish be­cause Fidel was a mod­est, hum­ble per­son,” said 61-year-old com­puter tech­ni­cian To­masa Sa­va­tel. — AFP

CRUCES: A man with a tat­too of Cuba’a late leader Fidel Cas­tro, waits for the ar­rival of the car­a­van car­ry­ing his ashes dur­ing a fu­neral pro­ces­sion that re­traces the path of Cas­tro’s tri­umphant march into Ha­vana nearly six decades ago, in Cruces, Cuba. — AP

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