HAVANA, Cuba, Dec. 04, 2016 – The ashes of Fidel Castro, the iconic revolutionary leader who died late last month, were interred in a private ceremony Sunday, bringing an end to nine days of mourning in Cuba for a man who was the political face of the island nation for nearly half a century.
The ceremony at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, located in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, is known as the site that launched the Cuban Revolution. Castro’s remains join those of other prominent Cuban figures.
Castro’s younger brother Raul, who took over as leader of Cuba in 2006 when Fidel fell ill, delivered the final tribute.
“The permanent teaching of Fidel is that ‘Yes, you can;’ that man is able to overcome the harshest conditions if his will to defeat does not faint, he makes an evaluation of each situation and does not renounce his noble and just principles,” Raul Castro said in a speech, a transcript of which was provided by Granma, the Cuban government’s official media agency.
“He showed that, yes, we could, yes, we can, and yes, we can overcome any obstacle, threat or turbulence in our firm commitment to build socialism in Cuba.”
Sunday’s funeral procession got underway in the early daylight hours as thousands of mourners lined the streets to say their final goodbyes to Castro, who died at the age of 90. The Cuban military marked the start of the ceremony with a 21-gun salute.
Until Castro’s death, announced by his brother on Nov. 25, details of his final resting place had been shrouded in mystery. Even now, there is little known about how much access the public will have to the grave site.
The cemetery is located in the northwestern part of Santiago, close to the bay. Castro’s tomb has been a long-guarded secret. Construction began about two years ago, according to those who live nearby.
On Saturday, Raul Castro announced that in keeping with his late brother’s wishes about avoiding the development of a cult of personality, Cuba will prohibit the erecting of statues and naming of streets after the former leader.
This is in contrast to the Cuban patriot Marti, who has numerous monuments around Cuba and the nation’s airport – Jose Marti International – bearing his name.
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