People stand in front of a billboard to Cuba’s late President Fidel Castro in Santa Clara, Cuba, Nov. 30, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Fidel Castro will be remembered as a champion of the world’s poor, a figure of Latin American integration, and a fierce anti-imperialist.
Late Cuban president Fidel Castro’s ashes departed Thursday from Santa Clara, where the bones of his fellow revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara are housed, en route to Santiago de Cuba, Fidel’s birthplace where his remains will be laid to rest.
The “Caravan of Liberty” started transporting Fidel’s ashes across Cuba Wednesday after a massive public gathering and ceremony in Havana’s Revolution Square saw hundreds of thousands say goodbye to Fidel Tuesday night.
The caravan is traveling in the reverse order of the leader’s historic journey from Santiago de Cuba to Havana in 1959 to mark the triumph of the Cuban revolution, which ousted the U.S.-backed military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
The four-day procession will conclude with a mass event and a state funeral in Santiago de Cuba, where Fidel’s ashes will be put to rest at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, which houses the remains of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti and other national heroes.
On Monday and Tuesday, thousands of Cubans in Havana joined long lines to pay tribute at the Jose Marti Memorial, where a display showing a young Fidel in military uniform was perched among flowers.
The Revolucion Square, where the memorials took place, is the same place where Fidel once delivered rousing, marathon speeches over the course of half a century. Many leaders of Latin America’s left, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivian President Evo Morales paid their tributes and spoke of Fidel’s influence in a ceremony Tuesday night.