- Title: Argentines mourn the death of Fidel Castro
- Date: 28th November 2016
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (NOVEMBER 28, 2016) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF EXTERIOR OF THE CUBAN EMBASSY IN BUENOS AIRES WITH FLOWERS AND MESSAGES OF CONDOLENCE ROSES
- Embargoed: 13th December 2016 14:17
- Keywords: Fidel Castro Cuban embassy memorial Raul Castro
- Location: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- City: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ACZQDJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Argentines paid tribute on Monday (November 28) to Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro at the Cuban embassy in capital Buenos Aires, where a book of condolences was opened.
In the native country of Castro's right-hand man, Che Guevara, flowers and written messages were left on the gates of the embassy as people filed in to sign the book for Castro, which will be available to receive messages for five days.
Photographs and thank you messages were left for the Cuban revolutionary who died on Friday (November 25) aged 90.
As Argentine leftists were victimized by a series of military dictatorships, Castro built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him.
A towering figure of the 20th century and Cold War icon, Castro stuck to his ideology beyond the collapse of Soviet communism and remained widely respected in parts of the world that struggled against colonial rule.
Images of Castro and Che have become synonymous with revolution, leftist ideology and anti-Americanism.
Ramon Ramirez is a former member of the 1960s and '70s leftist Argentine guerrilla group known as "montoneros." He said he admired Castro's willingness to sacrifice his very life for his ideology.
"I hurt very much, but he also left us - in some way - his legacy, which is the struggle for the people to be free. We believe, humbly, that we all feel great pain because they are men who have truly given their life for country. For that reason, the homage that we can pay is very little," he said.
Thousands of leftists were killed or 'disappeared' during Argentina's staunchly anti-communist military rulers.
When the country returned to democracy in 1983, Argentine President Raul Alfonsin passed an amnesty law that shielded members of the military from prosecution of their crimes, which included drugging and throwing leftists from planes to their deaths and stealing the babies of leftists who were then given to other families.
The amnesty was not overturned until 2005, under the presidency of Nestor Kirchner. To this day, there are 'Dirty War' trials pending and families reuniting.
To these leftists and the many in Latin America, the Castro's 1959 Cuban Revolution was a beacon of hope against right-wing repression.
In Venezuela, where socialist Nicolas Maduro struggles to remain in power amid a social and economic crisis, leftists honour Fidel Castro for the guidance and close friendship he offered former President Hugo Chavez.
Venezuelan Ambassador to Argentina, Carlos Martinez Mendoza, signed the condolences book in Argentina and eulogized Castro for his ideas.
"For everyone this is painful of course - Fidel's departure. No one can doubt that this is not so, especially because of the sharpness of his thinking, his ability to interpret the deep knowledge he had in terms of international and world power. But I repeat and repeat, these processes have in this time the ability to amalgamate the ideas that this giant left. Therefore, the people will continue to explore, continue to deepen, continue to study, continue to amalgamate these thoughts throughout time," Martinez said.
Castro ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War.
He was criticized by the United States and its allies for his repression of dissent, religion, political freedom and free speech at home as he supported rebellion abroad.
Castro had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother, Raul, two years later.
Cuba has declared nine days of mourning, during which time Castro's ashes will be taken to different parts of the country. A burial ceremony will be held on Dec. 4.
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