HAVANA – Fidel Castro departed on Wednesday from Havana never to return, amid the tears and mourning of his countrymen along Havana’s Malecon seaside promenade, which was filled with emotional supporters who gathered to bid farewell to the ashes of a leader who left them “prepared for struggle.”
Dawn broke in Havana and a brilliant sun shone down on the funeral cortege as it made its way through the capital streets amid flags and shouts of “Viva Fidel!” and “I am Fidel!” that periodically broke the solemn silence.
“We’ve lost a man of ideas, who gave everything for us ... He left us prepared to continue the struggle,” a weeping Aida de Miguel told EFE after watching the urn containing Castro’s ashes pass by.
“We’re going to continue what he wanted, because he left us prepared to defend the country,” said De Miguel, who said that she had been very “close” to Castro “at a meal” many years ago.
More tears were shed along the Malecon for the Cuban revolutionary leader and former president, who died last Friday at age 90. There, Catalina Ramirez told EFE that she was on the Plaza of the Revolution on Tuesday evening at the huge tribute where the public said farewell to Castro with the leaders of about 20 countries in attendance, and she returned early Wednesday morning to the street to say a last goodbye to him.
“I feel like they’ve stolen a piece of my heart,” she said, adding “I owe everything I have to him.”
Irma Rodriguez, unable to contain her tears, described Castro as someone who was “very huge” and declared that the Cuban people will keep “moving forward with the Revolution with Raul” Castro, Fidel’s younger brother and Cuba’s president.
Ernesto, 77, also expressed himself emotionally sitting on the curb on 23rd Street after the funeral cortege passed by. “I never expected to see his death. I always thought I’d go before him, that he would never die ... And he’s gone now ... (although) his ideas remain” along with his “immortal work,” he told EFE in a choked voice.
From another generation, 19-year-old Julier Reyes also came to see the funeral procession pass by with Castro’s ashes and said that “Fidel, for me, is like a father. He’s ... everything for me. I have no words.”