- Title: Leaders gather for Fidel Castro's farewell ceremony
- Date: 4th December 2016
- Summary: IMAGE OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADER JUAN ALMEIDA BOSQUE ON BUILDING BOY SITTING ON SHOULDER OF FATHER
- Embargoed: 19th December 2016 00:47
- Keywords: Fidel Castro Raul Castro Morales Lula Rousseff Maduro Morales Ortega
- Location: SANTIAGO, CUBA
- City: SANTIAGO, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Reuters ID: LVA0035BGUF5Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of Cubans packed into a public square in Santiago de Cuba on Saturday (December 3), joining dignitaries to bid farewell to revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in the city where his ashes will be entombed.
Cuba's current President Raul Castro will give a speech to commemorate the legacy of a his older brother, a man once feted by Nelson Mandela for helping to end apartheid, but who also helped take the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis.
High-profile friends of Castro, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Bolivian President Evo Morales and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, arrived for an evening sendoff in the city where he launched the Cuban revolution six decades ago. Also in attendance were Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Over the past two decades a clutch of leftist governments rose to power in Latin America inspired by his ideas and fierce opposition to the United States. Several have now been defeated at the ballot box.
The thundering Comandante, who built a Soviet-sponsored Communist state 90 miles (145 km) from the United States and survived a half century of U.S. attempts to topple or kill him, died on Nov. 25 at 90 years old.
Drawn in a trailer behind an olive green army jeep, Castro's ashes have made a 600-mile (1,000-km) journey in which hundreds of thousands of Cubans, many chanting "I am Fidel!," have lined up on roadsides and gathered in plazas for a final tribute.
The funeral cortege departed Havana on Wednesday, retracing the route Castro and his bearded rebels took from Santiago to Havana in January 1959 after ousting U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Castro went on to rule for 49 years until illness forced him to resign.
On Sunday morning, his ashes will be interred near the remains of Cuba's independence hero Jose Marti in a cemetery in the eastern city, in what is likely to be a solemn ceremony.
Sunday will mark the end of the official nine-day mourning period declared by the government.
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