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News > Latin America

Cubans React to News of Fidel's Death: Sadness, Disbelief

  • Woman walks past a billboard of Fidel Castro in Havana which says

    Woman walks past a billboard of Fidel Castro in Havana which says "We're on the right path!" | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 November 2016

In Havana, many were enjoying regular Friday evening strolls along the Malecon when news of Fidel Castro’s death broke.

While much of the U.S. media focuses on the reactions of world leaders and the right-wing of the Cuban-American community in south Florida, initial reactions among Cubans themselves was a mix of shock and sadness.

Carlos Rodriguez, 15, was sitting in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood when he heard that Fidel Castro had died. He told the AP “Fidel? Fidel? That’s not what I was expecting. One always thought that he would last forever. It doesn’t seem true,” he said, slapping his head in shock.

World Reacts to Fidel Castro's Passing

“It’s a tragedy,” said 22-year-old nurse Dayan Montalvo. “We all grew up with him. I feel really hurt by the news that we just heard.”

"It's a normal life process (but) it's news that no one is ever ready to receive. Even less so, news of the Comandante's death," said one woman.

Another told Reuters, "Well, I feel a bit shaken. He was a public figure that everybody loved and respected."

Another young woman told AFP, "As a Cuban, and like everyone else in the country who loved him, I'm sad. He was a man who did a lot for the Cuban revolution, for the country, for all of the Cuban people. He is an idol, he is the man of the country, as they say." Another said "

Officials declared a nine-day mourning period early Saturday, canceling public festivals and official events. On Monday and Tuesday gatherings are planned throughout the country so Cubans can pay homage to the former President and sign books of remembrance.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time there will be a mass rally at the iconic Plaza de La Revolucion in Havana - site of countless Fidel speeches - and the next day Fidel’s ashes will be transported along the route of the 1959 “Caravan of Liberty” which marked the victory of the Cuban revolution.

RELATED: Fidel Castro, Leader of the Cuban Revolution Dies at 90

The procession will continue until Dec. 3 and end in Santiago de Cuba. There, on Dec. 4, Fidel’s ashes will be ceremonially placed in the national hero’s Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, home to the memorials of legendary Cuban independence leader Jose Marti, and the martyrs of the 1953 Moncada Barracks attack, which marked the beginning of uprising that led to the triumph of the 1959 revolution.

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