Cuba has paid tribute to its late leader, Fidel Castro, with a military parade. The event, which takes place every five years, marked the 58th anniversary of the revolution that brought him to power.
Tens of thousands of soldiers, militia members, students and workers marched at Revolution Square in Havana on Monday to mark 58 years since the Cuban Revolution.
The annual parade was held just over a month since Fidel Castro - who led the July 26th Movement - died at the age of 90.
As Castro's younger brother and current leader Raul Castro waved at the parade, participants were seen carrying a giant banner reading "We are Fidel." Others waved large photos of the late revolutionary leader. The event usually takes place every five years on December 2, but was postponed last month after Castro's death on November 25.
Following Castro's request, Cuba's legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power, unanimously passed a bill last month banning monuments in his honor and infrastructure named after him.
Challenging year ahead
Faced with steep economic and diplomatic challenges, Cuba's parade on Monday was a traditional show of nationalist fighting spirit.
The Communist island fell into an economic recession in the second half of 2016 - its first since the collapse of the Soviet Union a quarter century ago.
The country's economy suffered greatly due to the economic crisis in nearby Venezuela, whose discount oil exports once kept Cuba afloat.
Trump inauguration looming
With US President-elect Donald Trump due to take office on January 20, Cuba's historic rapprochement with the United States is now under threat.
Ahead of his election in November, Trump vowed to halt the thaw in relations, if the Castro regime fails to allow more democratic freedoms and economic reforms.
The US had broken off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 during the Cold War and imposed a wide-ranging embargo on the island. Castro and US President Barack Obama first announced plans to resume diplomatic ties and a prisoner swap following secret Vatican-brokered talks in December 2014.
Trade between the two nations remains limited due to the more than 50-year-old congressionally mandated trade embargo on Cuba, which includes a ban on American tourism to the Communist-led island.
Last year, however, Washington and Havana signed a deal on commercial air traffic that will allow for more than 100 daily flights between the two countries.
ksb/cmk (AFP, Reuters)