Havana, Nov 29: Thousands of Cubans gathered at Revolution Square here to pay tribute to the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who passed away on Friday at the age of 90. The people of Cuba walked through the square’s memorial to national hero Jose Marti on Monday and filed past photographs of Castro, Xinhua news agency reported. Cuban Communist Party leaders, as well as top government officials and senior military officers, maintained an honour guard in front of an image of Castro, who was popularly known as “El Comandante”.
The ceremony began at 9.00 a.m. (local time) with a 21-gun salute, shot from the Cabana Fortress, as a tribute by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) to Fidel. South African President Jacob Zuma will also attend the funeral and has ordered that the South African national flag be flown at half-mast at all stations in South Africa on Tuesday. Following Castro’s death, Cuba declared nine days of national mourning.
The tribute at Revolution Square will extend through Tuesday after which, Castro’s ashes will embark on a 1,000 km journey around the island, so that all Cubans could bid him their last “goodbyes”. The trip would take the reverse route of the “Caravan of Freedom”, in which the rebels of the Sierra Maestra crossed the country from Santiago de Cuba when the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959.
The remains of the former Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces would arrive in Santiago, the cradle of the Revolution, on Saturday, when another massive tribute ceremony would take place in Antonio Maceo Square. The burial ceremony of his ashes, which was expected to be attended by his family, would take place in the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery of Havana.