- Title: Cuban stars take in death of Fidel
- Date: 28th November 2016
- Summary: PHOTOGRAPH OF SOTOMAYOR WITH FIDEL CASTRO
- Embargoed: 13th December 2016 00:36
- Keywords: Omara Portuondo Javier Soto Mayor Ana Fidelia Quiros Fidel Castro Olympics
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0065A7ZL1J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Prominent Cuban musicians and athletes on Sunday (November 27) said they lamented the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but said it was also important to honour his memory and ideals as their country moves forward.
Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, who serenaded Fidel on his 90th birthday celebration earlier this year, said the late leader would remain a guide for Cubans to aspire to.
"I'm really sad about the loss, very sad, but this is the reality of being born and dying. We would have liked to have had him for longer, but that's not what happened. It was his time, and it's a tough loss; very, very tough. And we have to take care and remember the concepts he had on dignity and the Cuban-ness to be human. Almost all of us share this, and he is a guide for us," the singer, well-known for her Cuban bolero-style music, said.
Cuban high jumper Javier Sotomayor, who won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona as well as silver in Sydney in 2000, said Cubans should honour Fidel by showing the world their strengths.
"The way to defend our revolution has been to achieve a lot of success by showing the world what we are capable of and that's what we're going to continue to do today and into the future despite the absence of the Comandante, because he has left physically, but his legacy will always be in our hearts, our thoughts and our actions," said the high jump world record holder.
Cuban runner Ana Quirot, who was long a dominant figure in women's middle-distance running, said the Cuban revolutionary will always be in the hearts of the Cuban people.
"I'm going to remember Fidel very fondly, very lovingly. He is not here physically, but I'll say it again, he is in the hearts of the Cuban people and those of a lot of countries in Latin American, Europe, Asia, Africa and the whole world. Fidel will be remembered for all of history," she said.
Israel Rojas, part of Cuba's pop music duo Buena Fe, said it was up to Cubans to keep Castro's dreams for Cuba alive and strive to make them a reality for future generations.
"At some point people will understand to a certain point a lot of the things Fidel wanted to do and that he really just couldn't. I agree with (Cuban singer) Silvio (Rodriguez) on this; the idea that we are what we were able to do, not what we wanted to do. We owe this to that generation and to ourselves, in fact, we owe this to our children. Until this country is what we dream for it to be, it is still a debt we will owe. So we have to push forward. So long as this country has people that don't live in dignity, we have to continue to try to go forward and honour this idea," Rojas said.
Castro, an icon of the Cold War who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and defied half a century of U.S. efforts to topple him, died late on Friday (November 25) at the age of 90.
The Cuban government has declared a nine-day period of mourning which started on Saturday (November 26).
The cause of Castro's death was not made public but he 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 after ruling for nearly half a century.
Admirers of Fidel Castro and his legacy point to social achievements since his 1959 revolution such as free healthcare and education, but critics have long condemned a lack of political freedom on the island.
Castro was cremated on Saturday and the ashes will be carried in a caravan next week to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, the city in eastern Cuba where he first launched his revolution in the 1950s. His funeral will take place on December 4.
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