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Fidel Castro

Cuba and allies rally to mourn passing of Fidel Castro

Tens of thousands of people have been rallying in Havana to remember late Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro. The revolutionary's ashes are due to travel across the country as Castro's supporters mourn.

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Fidel Castro honored in Havana

Regional leaders from Latin America and further afield were present on Tuesday, as Cuba remembered its former leader with a service in Havana.

Leaders of Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa and Zimbabwe, were in the Cuban capital, along with those from several smaller Caribbean nations. However, many big names were missing - a reminder of the division of the Cold War and Castro's questionable record on human rights.

Black-and-white revolution-era footage of the former leader was shown on a big screen, as the Cuban national anthem was played. Castro's younger brother and successor, President Raul Castro, who has presided over the country for the last 10 years, saluted.

Thousands turned out in the city's Revolution Square - the space Castro once used for his rousing public speeches.

Instead, the voices of the public resounded around the square, with shouts of, "Viva Fidel!" and, "United, the people will never be defeated!"

Kuba Trauer um Fidel Castro (Reuters/E. De La Osa)

While the former president leaves a controversial legacy, genuine affection for him was apparent

Meanwhile, across the country people signed books of condolence and an oath of loyalty to Castro's proclamation of the 1959 revolution, and what came after it, as an unending battle against capitalism. Many said they had been strongly encouraged to sign it.

Tribute sites were set up in hundreds of places across the island, with the government urging Cubans to reaffirm their belief in the socialist, single party system.

A caravan of freedom was planned after the ceremony, in which the urn carrying Castro's ashes was to be carried across the country, tracing the route that Castor's guerilla movement took in its fight to topple dictator Fulgencio Batista.

rc/gsw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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