- Title: Cubans throng Revolution Square in mourning for Fidel Castro
- Date: 28th November 2016
- Summary: FIDEL CASTRO PHOTOGRAPH HONOUR GUARD STANDING BY CASTRO'S ALTAR
- Embargoed: 13th December 2016 15:43
- Keywords: Fidel Castro death monument photos medals mourning Cubans tribute
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0025AD0L6V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Cubans began lining up five hours in advance of a mass gathering in Havana's Revolution Square on Monday (November 28) to commemorate Fidel Castro, the guerrilla leader who led a leftist revolution in 1959 and ruled the Caribbean island for half a century.
Castro died on Friday at the age of 90, a decade after stepping down due to poor health and ceding power to his brother Raul Castro.
Castro was admired by leftists and people of the developing world who saw him as a revolutionary who stood up to the powerful United States, but vilified by those who viewed him as a dictator who oppressed Cubans and ruined the economy through socialism.
"It is a great source of pain. It is something that had to occur because we all must die, but sometimes it is hard for us to accept that Fidel has died," said Felix Gomez as he stood in the sun.
Castro was cremated on Saturday and the government has declared a nine-day period of mourning. His ashes will be carried in a cortege to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, the city in eastern Cuba where he launched the revolution.
The government has invited people to Havana's Revolution Square for a two-day ceremony that started at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) with a thunderous cannon salute that could be heard throughout much of the capital.
People began queuing up as early as 4 a.m. to be at the head of one of three lines of mourners entering a square that has been central to Cuba's recent history, and where Castro gave many of his rousing, lengthy speeches.
"I have come to say good-bye to the Comandante for the last time. It is very painful but I know he will always be with us," said Berta Corrales as she stood on line.
Mourners paraded by a photo of a young Castro dressed in military fatigues and gazing into the distance with a rifle and pack slug over his back. A military honour guard and some civilians flanked the photo and an arrangement of white flowers.
Political opponents stayed away or kept quiet, allowing admirers to say goodbye to a man who elevated the island to the world stage during the Cold War by forging a communist-run state just 90 miles (145 km) from Florida and then resisting Washington's long efforts to force change.
The ceremony in the capital will end on Tuesday night when foreign leaders are expected to pay their respects.
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