- Title: U.S. tourists in Cuba call Fidel Castro’s death historic moment to be in Havana
- Date: 27th November 2016
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (NOVEMBER 27, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF A WOMAN SINGING AS SHE SELLS PEANUTS
- Embargoed: 12th December 2016 19:12
- Keywords: Cuba Fidel Castro death United States tourists
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015A7Z2VB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Tourists in Cuba received a first-hand look into a historic moment for the country and the world as they witnessed Cubans reacting to the death on Friday (November 25) of Fidel Castro with a general sense of calm and a surge of national pride that could be seen in an upsurge of Cuban flags on display.
U.S. tourists on Sunday (November 27) told Reuters it was surreal to be in Havana as the country mourns the passing of Castro, a towering figure of the 20th century and an icon of the Cold War.
"That was shocking because through all of my life - I was born in 1957 - Castro had always been there so it was very shocking. Even though it's not my country, he's an icon. He was an icon of a period of time that the world lived in so it was very surreal to understand that this man is gone," U.S. tourist Richard Lotta said while touring Old Havana.
Castro built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and defied half a century of U.S. efforts to topple him.
Another tourist from the U.S., Ed Schroth, said he was hopeful for the future following the death of the 90-year-old who had dominated political life on the island for generations.
"Well it is enjoyable to be sharing this historical time here in Cuba. I think the 21st century can be an exciting time for the world. As governments are evolving and changing, and especially the young people becoming educated - I see a possibility of a good positive direction in the world," Schroth said.
U.S. President Barack Obama reversed more than five decades of U.S. hostility toward Cuba and re-established diplomatic ties last year.
Following Castro's death, the U.S. president called Castro a "singular figure" and said the United States would extend "a hand of friendship" to Cuba.
The tourists Reuters spoke to seemed to share Obama's sentiment.
"Well it's an important time for the Cuban people; actually, for everyone. And we hope that it will also be a new beginning," U.S. tourist Lois van Deusen said.
Castro had been in poor health since he nearly died of an intestinal illness in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother, Raul Castro, in 2008.
Raul Castro, 85, who had been at his brother's side since they took up arms against a U.S.-backed dictatorship in the 1950s, has not appeared in public or on television since he announced Fidel's death on Friday night in a brief televised statement.
Cuba's allies and foes around the world have marked Castro's death with a mix of tributes and condemnation.
Castro's remains were cremated, and his ashes will be taken around Cuba until a state funeral on December 4.
Western diplomatic officials said foreign dignitaries will arrive by Tuesday (November 29) for a memorial service to be held in Revolution Square that evening.
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