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5 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Cuba starts Castro burial, enters new era

AFP

Fidel Castro’s ashes were taken yesterday to a cemetery in the cradle of his revolution as Cuba opens a new era without the communist leader who ruled the island for decades, reports AFP from Santiago De Cuba. Capping a week of tributes and mass rallies, a jeep pulled the cedar urn into the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as thousands chanted “viva Fidel!”
Castro, who died on November 25 at age 90, will be laid to rest during a “simple” ceremony near the mausoleum of 19th century independence icon Jose Marti and other national heroes, said his brother and successor, President Raul Castro. The funeral was closed to the public and no images of the tomb have been released so far. On Saturday night, Raul Castro led a massive, final rally in his brother’s honor at Santiago’s Revolution Plaza, leading the crowd in a pledge to uphold socialist ideals. “In front of Fidel’s remains ... we swear to defend the fatherland and socialism,” Raul Castro said. “He demonstrated that, yes we could, yes we can, yes we will overcome any obstacle, threat, turbulence in our firm resolve to build socialism in Cuba,” he said. While Castro was sidelined by emergency intestinal surgery a decade ago, he remained a towering figure in Cuba. He was revered by supporters for the free health care and education he spread across the island, and vilified by dissidents who saw him as a brutal dictator. Although he was an omnipresent figure in the lives of Cubans, Castro’s dying wish was that no statues be erected in his memory and no streets or building be named after him. The national assembly, which meets later this month, will pass a law to follow Castro’s order, his brother said.
“The leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality,” Raul Castro said.
His burial ends a nine-day period of mourning during which Cubans, often encouraged by the government, flooded the streets to pay tribute to Castro, chanting “I am Fidel!” as his ashes were taken across the Caribbean country. Many held an all-night vigil at Santiago’s Revolution Plaza, reading poems and holding pictures of Fidel Castro.
“For me Fidel is a second god and his death has hurt me a lot,” said 59-year-old restaurant worker Daisy Vera Ramirez.
Marina Brito Carmenati, a 66-year-old retiree who lives near the cemetery, woke up before dawn to bid farewell.
“I feel a lot of pain, a lot of sadness. He’s the father to all of us,” she said. The government nurtured the religious-like fervor, with state media calling Castro the “eternal comandante.”
In the past week, Cubans were urged to go to schools and other public buildings to sign an oath of loyalty to his revolution.
“I trust Raul because Raul is Fidel’s brother. Fidel taught him everything,” 23-year-old teacher Irina Hierro Rodriguez said after Saturday’s rally.
Fidel and Raul Castro launched a failed attack on Santiago’s Moncada military barracks in July 1953, but it was the seed of a revolution that triumphed in 1959. After taking power, Fidel Castro became a Soviet ally and was a constant thorn in the side of successive US presidents until illness forced him to hand power to Raul in 2006.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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