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Death of Castro

US Cubans celebrate death of Fidel Castro

In Miami, thousands of people celebrated the news of Castro's death. Many Cubans had fled the island after Castro took over as the country's president in 1959, with a large portion settling in Florida's biggest city.

While the news of Castro's death was met with mourning by a large number of Cubans, the news prompted celebrations among many Cuban exiles in Florida.

Thousands gathered in Miami's Little Havana to cheer, wave Cuban flags, and bang out rhythms on pots with spoons.

There was a honking of car horns, while police blocked off roads.

Reaktionen von Exilkubanern in Miami auf die Annäherung von USA und Kuba (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Some said it was not so much the death of a human being, but what he represented

"The streets are so joyous because several generations of Cubans are celebrating the death of a dictator," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

Many of those celebrating were loyalists of President Fulgencio Batista, who had been overthrown by Castro's revolution. However, there were others who simply felt that the Cuban leader's policies were too oppressive.

Many members of the old government were shot by firing squads, while independent newspapers were closed and homosexuals were sent to camps for "re-education." In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners.

"This is a dictator that has hurt the lives of at least four generations of Cubans," said Mayor Regalado. "Inside and outside the island. There are families that have been divided. There are people who have relatives that have been shot. People whose relatives have been in jail for many years. So, most of the wounds have not healed yet."

'Celebrating like a carnival'

Regalado added that it was also a time to look forward to the end of the administration as a whole, with Castro's brother Raul currently presiding over the country.

"We are all celebrating, this is like a carnival," 72-year-old Jay Fernandez told the Associated Press news agency. "Satan, Fidel is now yours. Give him what he deserves. Don't let him rest in peace."

However, others were more circumspect.

"It's not to celebrate the death of a human being but to celebrate what he represents," said Cuban American Carlos Lopez. "It's the end of an era that was really dark for my country, and truly what I'm celebrating is not that he has died but that, with him, an era has died, an ideology that was really bad for the people in Latin America."

US newspapers were awash with the news of Castro's demise, with "The New York Times" describing the leader as one who "bedeviled 11 American presidents and briefly pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war." Castro "became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people," the paper wrote.

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

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