[Fidel’s Passing, Part 6 of 6] Fidel Castro’s Funeral in Santiago de Cuba

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery where Fidel Castro's ashes were interred featured a huge Cuban flag flying at half mast

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, where Fidel Castro’s ashes were interred, featured a huge Cuban flag flying at half mast

The nine day mourning period following Fidel Castro’s death culminated with his 4 December 2016 funeral at Santiago de Cuba’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. A private affair, only family and select guests attended the event. Fidel’s ashes arrived to the cemetery early that morning having travelled for four days across Cuba from Havana.

Young Cubans hold posters and flags outside Fidel Castro's funeral

Young Cubans hold posters and flags outside Fidel Castro’s funeral

Outside the cemetery a crowd of Cubans and foreigners gathered to either pay tribute to Fidel or, like Rocío and I, to see history occurring. With us were many international journalists and camera crew interviewing locals and reporting.

Video from adjacent the cemetery on the day of Fidel’s funeral

When a 21 gun salute rang out, locals began singing Cuba’s national anthem and then chanting pro-Fidel slogans.

A Cuban woman being interviewed outside Fidel Castro's funeral

A Cuban woman being interviewed outside Fidel Castro’s funeral

A Cuban man being interviewed in front of a Fidel Castro flag

A Cuban man interviewed in front of a Fidel Castro flag

This Cuban boy being wears a 26 July Movement armband

This Cuban boy being wears a 26 July Movement armband

Foreign visitors included communists, fans of Fidel, event-seekers and people who happened to be in Cuba at the right time. Included in the latter were two Turkish flight attendants and Singapore Chris.

People outside Fidel Castro's funeral

Fidel fans and communists outside Fidel Castro’s funeral

An Interior Ministry official standing guard in front of a large sign stating 'Heritage is Humanity' (Patria es Humanidad)

An Interior Ministry official standing guard in front of a large sign stating Homeland is Humanity (Patria es Humanidad)

China's Dragon TV interviewing a girl with YO SOY FIDEL (I am Fidel) on her face

China’s Dragon TV interviewing a girl with YO SOY FIDEL (I am Fidel) on her face

For most of the morning we mulled around as journalists interviewed Cubans and sporadic chants erupted.

This local has a Cuban flag in her hair outside Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

A local styling a Cuban flag in her hair outside Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

The Cuban flag featured in many places including on this kite

The Cuban flag and Fidel featured elsewhere including on this kite

Haitians with a Haitian flag outside Fidel Castro's funeral

Haitians with a Haitian flag outside Fidel Castro’s funeral

For a brief period we were told to get off the road for some vehicles to pass. However, our hopes of seeing something exciting were dashed and people gradually drifted off.

People line up on the roadside near Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

People line up on the roadside near Santa Ifigenia Cemetery

Two students sitting on the roadside with a flag and framed image of Fidel

Two students sitting on the roadside with a flag and framed image of Fidel

US television station CBS interviewing a foreigner

US television station CBS interviewing a foreigner

The cemetery reopened to the public that afternoon although Rocío and I visited the following day, Monday 5 December. We queued with others, primarily locals, wanting to see Fidel’s tomb next to José Martí’s mausoleum.

Woman selling de-thorned roses for 1 peso (US$0.04) each adjacent the cemetery admission queue the day after Fidel Castro's funeral

Woman selling de-thorned roses for 1 peso (US$0.04) each adjacent the cemetery admission queue the day after Fidel Castro’s funeral

Even without Fidel’s presence, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery is notable. We also visited Buena Vista Social Club’s Compay Segundo’s grave and witnessed the changing of the ceremonial guards at José Martí’s mausoleum.

Fidel Castro's tomb at Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, Santiago de Cuba

Fidel Castro’s tomb at Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, Santiago de Cuba

Mourners and sightseers view Fidel Castro's tomb

Mourners and sightseers view Fidel Castro’s tomb

As expected, the funeral and related events dominated the following day’s Cuban newspaper coverage. Also of note was Raúl Castro’s decision to prohibit the naming of streets and monuments after Fidel Castro and the construction of statues of him, ostensibly to stop a cult of personality developing. From observation, I suggest Cuba already has a Fidel cult of personality but this decision would stop organisations and towns currying favour by outdoing each other in Fidel’s name.

The following day's Juventud Rebelde newspaper proclaims "Fidel is still life"

The following day’s Juventud Rebelde newspaper proclaims “Fidel is still life”

After 9 days centred around Fidel’s death and associated events, Rocío and I were happy to get back to regular travel, although nothing in Cuba is normal.

One thought on “[Fidel’s Passing, Part 6 of 6] Fidel Castro’s Funeral in Santiago de Cuba

  1. Pingback: From Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa via Guantanamo Bay | Where is Joe.in?

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