Fidel Castro ashes interred in private funeral in Santiago de Cuba | News | DW | 04.12.2016
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Fidel Castro ashes interred in private funeral in Santiago de Cuba

Fidel Castro's remains have arrived at a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, marking the start of funeral ceremonies. The funeral marks the end of a nine-day mourning period for the former Cuban leader.

An army jeep carrying Fidel Castro's ashes in a cedar urn entered the cemetery in Santiago on Sunday as a 21-gun artillery salute signaled the beginning of funeral ceremonies.

Thousands of people lined the streets in the eastern city and birthplace of his revolution, singing Cuba's national anthem and shouting "Viva Fidel!"

The ceremony was private and not broadcast live on television as expected. International media were also barred from the events.

"There were no speeches. It was very simple. There were just the ashes that were interred, the family, the government and officials," French Environment Minister Segolene Royal told news agency AFP after the hourlong funeral at Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

The decision to inter Castro's ashes out of the public eye came a day after Castro's brother, President Raul Castro, announced the country will prohibit naming streets and monuments after the former leader.

Although he was an omnipresent figure in the lives of Cubans, Castro's dying wish was that no statues or monuments be erected in his memory.

"The leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality," Raul Castro said during a large, final rally in Santiago on Saturday.

Dilma Rousseff und Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Abschied von Fidel Castro (picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Raul Castro (far right) held a final rally for his brother on Saturday with foreign leaders

Sunday's funeral caps off a week of tributes and mass rallies for the late leader, who ruled Cuba for a half-century. In the past week, Cubans were urged by the government to sign an oath of loyalty to Castro's revolution.

On Saturday, thousands attended the final rally in Santiago's central plaza, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Brazil's former President Dilma Roussef, Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, and Bolivia's President Evo Morales.

The late Castro was revered by supporters for the free health care and education he spread across the country, but vilified by dissidents and others around the world who criticized him and viewed him as a brutal dictator.

Fidel Castro stepped down in 2006 after falling ill and died on November 25 at age 90.

Since succeeding his brother, Raul has implemented modest economic reforms in recent years and worked towards restoring diplomatic relations with the United States. He has vowed to step down in 2018.

rs/rc (AP, AFP)

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