CAMAGUEY, Cuba – The caravan transporting the ashes of Fidel Castro set out at 7:00 a.m. Friday on the road between the Cuban cities of Camaguey and Bayamo, the last stage of the journey before the former president’s mortal remains are taken to their final resting place in Santiago de Cuba.
The vehicle bearing the urn containing the ashes of the Cuban leader, who died last Friday at age 90, began its journey from Ignacio Agramonte Plaza in Camaguey, where the caravan stayed for the night.
Thousands of people lined the streets along the caravan’s route from the early hours to bid their final farewell to the commander-in-chief.
As the procession went by, many of the mourners were in tears. Others took selfies with veterans of the revolution attending the act.
All through the night, Ignacio Agramonte Plaza was the scene of a massive gathering of people holding a vigil for Castro’s remains.
Groups of young people spent the night there singing songs and chanting revolutionary slogans while local entertainers paid homage to the late Cuban leader.
The trip that the funeral cortege initiated last Tuesday from Havana is the same, but in the opposite direction, of the one taken between Jan. 2-8, 1959, by Fidel Castro and a thousand “barbudos” (bearded ones), as the rebels were known who ousted the dictator Fulgencio Batista to take power.
The so-called “Freedom Caravan” set out Jan. 2, 1959, from Santiago de Cuba and traveled some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) between that eastern Cuban city and Havana in seven days via the Central Highway.
The caravan stopped at numerous towns and villages along the way, and in some of them Castro gave speeches explaining the ideals of the Cuban Revolution to the locals.
The motorcade this Friday is planned to pass through such towns as Guamaro, Las Tunas, Buenaventura and Holguin before reaching Bayamo, where the caravan will spend the night.
On Saturday, the caravan will arrive at Santiago de Cuba, where Fidel’s remains will be buried Sunday in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.