Fidel Castro Ruz, the legendary revolutionary leader who led the brave Cuban people to victory in their fight against the US-imperialism backed Batista regime in 1959 and organised them to withstand the crippling economic blockades, assassinations, provocations and military aggressions of US imperialism in the long decades since then with outstanding success, breathed his last on Nov 25, 2016. Many events and programs were organised in Cuba and around the world not only to celebrate his life and work but also to vow to continue to fight for the ideas he cherished to build a world with justice and peace.
Fidel’s mortal remains were cremated in the morning of November 26, 2016. Soon after, people began arriving at the José Martí Memorial in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución to pay their respects to Comandante Fidel. They affirmed their commitment to defend the victories of the Cuban revolution by signing the oath to the “Concept of Revolution” articulated by Fidel Castro on May 1, 2000:
“Revolution means to have a sense of history; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is achieving emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts; it is challenging powerful dominant forces from within and without the social and national milieu; it is defending the values in which we believe at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with courage, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is a profound conviction that there is no power in the world that can crush the power of truth and ideas. Revolution means unity; it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.”
Similar functions were held in towns across Cuba. On November 29, a mass rally was held in José Martí Revolution Square in Havana to honour the memory of Fidel Castro. The square and the avenue leading up to it were a sea of humanity, a mighty expression of the profound respect, gratitude and social love shared between the Cuban people and Fidel.
Various heads of state and dignitaries from around the world too paid tribute to the life and work of Fidel in this ceremony. These included the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado; the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma; Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica and President Pro Tempore of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the President of Salvador, Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the Council of Algeria, Li Yuanchao, Vice President of China, Majid Ansari, Vice President for Legal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian State Duma, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, Hage Gottfried Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the Republic of Nicaragua, Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines among others.
On November 30, General Raúl Castro Ruz presided over the ceremony that was held as the caravan bearing the remains of the undefeated Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz departed from Havana toward Santiago de Cuba. It was from Santiago de Cuba that in January 1959, the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro marched on the Caravan of Victory to liberate Havana and all of Cuba. As was the case 58 years ago, this was a triumphant march, and once again the people received Fidel with affection and commitment to his Concept of Revolution. All along the route, people poured out to meet the caravan bearing Fidel’s ashes and say their last farewell to their beloved leader.
On December 3, 2017, over 300,000 people of Santiago and adjoining provinces filled the Plaza de la Revolución Antonio Maceo to bid Fidel farewell. Various representatives of the Cuban people spoke at this ceremony and President Raúl Castro made the concluding remarks.
The Cuban President recalled key moments of the life and work of Fidel, his internationalist efforts, his dedication to the peoples of the world and his friendships with global leaders. In his speech, he emphasized “The permanent teaching of Fidel is that yes, we can; that man is able to overcome the harshest conditions if his will to win does not yield, he makes an evaluation of each situation and does not renounce his noble and just principles.”