SANTIAGO DE CUBA – Former President Fidel Castro’s ashes were interred on Sunday at historic Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba during a private ceremony.
Officials have not revealed many details about the burial, but they said the ashes were interred near those of national hero Jose Marti.
President Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, placed the urn containing the former leader’s ashes inside a stone that some reports said was brought to the cemetery from the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where the revolution was launched in the 1950s.
The large gray stone is similar to the one placed at the mausoleum on Micara mountain that holds the remains of Raul’s late wife, Vilma Espin, who died in 2007.
The interment of Castro’s ashes was closed to the public and was reportedly attended only by relatives and special guests, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro; Bolivian President Evo Morales; and former Brazilian Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.
Authorities kept the press and about 100 people who gathered outside Santa Ifigenia’s gates out of the burial ground.
People in the crowd carried portraits of Castro and chanted slogans praising him.
The vehicle transporting the ashes left the cemetery empty about two hours after arriving, and the guests invited to the ceremony left soon after.
In addition to Marti, Santa Ifigenia is the final resting place of independence leader Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and Mariana Grajales, the mother of independence leader Gen. Antonio Maceo.
Thousands of people lined the streets Sunday of Santiago de Cuba, located in the eastern part of the island, as the funeral cortege made its way to the cemetery, shouting “ˇYo soy Fidel!” (I Am Fidel!) as the ashes passed.
The late Cuban leader’s ashes arrived in Santiago de Cuba from Havana on Saturday after a four-day journey covering nearly 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
Castro, who had been out of office for a decade, died on Nov. 25 at the age of 90 in Havana.