Fidel Castro 1926-2016
- Cuba 11/25/2016 by Linda Perry-Hope McKenney (WBAI News)

Fidel Castro y Camilo Cienfuegos 1959. Foto: Paco Altuna
Condolences have been pouring into Cuban President Raúl Castro and his family and to the people of Cuba on the death of Fidel Castro, the bearded revolutionary who ruled Cuba for half a century.  

On State TV, Raúl Castro announced that his brother, Fidel Castro Ruz, died Friday evening. Fidel was 90 years old. "With profound pain I share with our people and the friends of America and the world that today, on the 25th of November at 10:29 p.m., the head commander of the Cuban Revolution, the comrade Fidel Castro died. In following the wishes expressed by Fidel, his remains will be cremated." He ended shouting the Revolutionary salute, "Towards victory forever!"

The Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has declared nine days of national mourning, to be observed through 12pm December 4, 2016 when his remains are interred.  

This statement was issued on Granma: "Activities and public spectacles will cease during the period of national mourning, and the national flag will be flown at half-mast in public buildings and military establishments. Radio stations and television channels will offer informative, patriotic and historic programming."

The government says Cubans can show their respects for Castro beginning Monday morning at the Havana memorial to national hero Jose Marti, a leader of Cuba's 19th century fight for independence from Spain.

On Tuesday evening, Cubans will be called to a demonstration in the Plaza of the Revolution, where Castro led a series of huge rallies.

On Wednesday, Castro's cremated remains will begin a three-day journey from Havana to Santiago, retracing in reverse the route taken by the rebel army he led on a victorious march across the island in 1959.

Next Saturday, a mass commemoration will be held at the Antonio Maceo plaza in central Santiago de Cuba, the largest city in the east. The following morning, his ashes are to be interred at the cemetery where Marti is buried.

José Ramón Cabañas, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to the U.S., offered condolences for the loss as he says of one of the most extraordinary people of all time: Mis hondas condolencias a sus familiares, al pueblo de Cuba, al Mundo y a todo el Universo por la pérdida de uno de los seres humanos más extraordinarios de todos los tiempos.

President Jimmy Carter remembers the Revolutionary Leader fondly: "Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead." 

President Juncker of the European Commission said this: "Fidel Castro was one of the historic figures of the past century and the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution. With the death of Fidel Castro, the world has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond. Fidel Castro remains one of the revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His legacy will be judged by history."

President-elect Trump issued a divisive statement which doesn't even attempt diplomacy.

President Obama who has worked to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba issued this statement:  "We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation." Obama continued, "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that "Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoting bilateral relations based on respect, dialogue and solidarity."

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tweeted, "Sixty years after the Granma sailed from Mexico, Fidel sails toward the immortality of all those who fight their whole lives. Onward to victory, always!"

Puerto Rican Independence Party leader Rubén Berríos Martínez called Castro the "largest and most influential Latin American of the 20th century, whose verticality, vision and passion has always served as an inspiration for those who aspired to a more just, free and dignified Latin America."

Tributes were sent from Africa as well. Videos of Fidel Castro meeting with Nelson Mandela are being shared. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari wrote, "Fidel Castro was a great friend to Africa, to countries in the Global South and to the Non-Aligned Movement. His place in history is assured."

For the ANC, South Africa's governing party and national liberation movement, "Comrade Fidel Castro was a longstanding supporter and friend of the ANC and the people of South Africa. Comrade Castro's leadership remains an inspiration to revolutionary movements committed to social justice worldwide." #RIPFidelCastro #VasBienFidel

Click the arrow above to hear Hope McKenney's reporting from Havana. We will have more in coming days.