HAVANA – Cuba, after nine days of paralysis, consternation and sadness following the death of Fidel Castro, on Monday tried to return to its daily routine, to work, to playing music loudly and also to getting by, as people once again engage in a kind of juggling act to attend to their daily needs.
The ashes of the Cuban Revolutionary leader, who died on Nov. 25 at age 90, since Sunday have been resting in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, and now many members of the public who had been deeply saddened by his death have been trying to get back to their daily chores and duties.
Maria Esther, a worker in the City Historian’s Office, said that Monday was “a normal day, cheerful with our sun and our sky,” and Jose Luis, a retiree, told EFE that he was facing the day “just like any other without any kind of problems.”
However, Cubans are used to weathering assorted difficulties in their daily lives: everything from repercussions from the U.S. embargo and the island’s low salaries to the high prices of food and basic goods, most of them imported.
“My day is just one of daily life, attending to my family, very concerned about everything that’s happened to our comandante. We’re left with a lot of suffering,” said Sonia, a housewife.
Cuban flags, no longer at half-staff, are once again waving from the tops of the flagpoles here, although some still have black ribbons or crepe on them, and state-run television, which for a week had been rebroadcasting the funeral tributes to Castro, has resumed normal programming – and cartoons, to the children’s delight.
The national baseball series has started up again and the hustle and bustle has returned to Havana’s streets – which for two days last week had been filled with bereaved people turning out to bid farewell to Castro – and local residents on Monday stood in line again to take the local “guagua” (bus) or private “taxi” services to get to their destinations.
The Cuban capital, where tourism provides higher incomes for many people, could not allow itself to go on for too long without music, shows or alcohol sales, all of which were banned by the authorities during the mourning period after Castro’s death.
EFE noted that groups of tourists were once again strolling through Old Havana listening to the music played by assorted bands along Obispo Street or on Armas Square.
And many were refreshing themselves and relaxing with traditional “mojitos” or a daiquiri, which bars and restaurants may now serve legally once again.
But behind the facade of normalcy, the memory of Castro is everywhere, and one gets the impression that the death of the hero of the Sierra Maestra has returned him to the forefront of his countrymen’s lives after being generally out of the public eye for a decade after a serious intestinal ailment largely sidelined him from the nation’s political affairs, except sporadically or on very special occasions.
A day after his burial, people formed long lines at the Santiago cemetery to lay flowers at his grave.
And Humberto Vazquez, another retiree whom the comandante had taken in his arms when he was a boy, said “I’ll continue the fight because we have to move forward, always with the same ideals and toward victory. He died but the people remain, 12 million people who are Fidel. He was a dignified man of honor and that must be respected,” admitting that, after Castro’s death, he had cried for the former president “as if he were my father.”