Armando Benito Sáez, a journalist from the weekly newspaper 5 de Septiembre in Cienfuegos and secretary of his local Party branch: “The loss is irreparable for our people. The leader has gone, the father, the brother, the friend of all Cubans, who taught us how to love and defend the homeland, above all else. He was a navigational chart, a compass, captain of our country’s voyage toward Socialism.
“We Cubans, deeply hurt, will miss him every day, but his enduring example will encourage us to continue on the path, accumulating victories, defending ourselves from the enemy and seeking a better tomorrow for our people and the world.”
Lisandra Martínez Acea, a 23-year-old bank worker: “The Cuban youth, for whom he did so much, have lost their Comandante on the physical plane, but will continuously rediscover him by preserving his immense legacy in all aspects: ethical, moral, patriotic. Observing his conduct will be a mirror before which we look at ourselves, to be better and more committed.
“Fidel is and will be a clarion call, a guide, a sense of faith in victory. He fought against everything bad in this world, including racism. That is why he is so respected, that is why he is loved in this way and it is so important to continue his work within the new generations.”
Consternation and deep pain are words that could be used to describe the expressions on the faces of residents of Las Tunas. The unexpected news was a blow to everyone, and although clearly true, some refused to believe it. Aged ninety, Fidel Castro Ruz, who will go down in history as one of the greatest men born of humanity, had passed away.
Iraida Martínez Duardo, a retired teacher, walks slowly down the street, still trying to process the news that has her distraught. “It’s as if I had received a huge impact, and I know it was not just me, it was for all our people, it was for the world. I am sure of that given what Fidel represents, his ideals of struggle, for showing so much solidarity and humanity. He taught us to give everything for other nations and this loss is irreparable, especially because at the age of ninety, he retained the same lucidity and spirit that always distinguished him. Now it is up to us to push ahead with his work, but the people of Cuba will never forget this day. I will never forget it.”
Eberto Estrada Sao, director of the Provincial Institute of Meteorology, received calls from his colleagues very early, sharing the sad news.
“When we heard of the physical disappearance of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, we felt very sad and that feeling was shared both in our workplace and in our homes. This is a very deeply felt loss for the people of Cuba, but his ideas, his reasons for the struggle and his concept of Revolution will continue, in the hands of Army General Raúl Castro, who will have the support and dedication of the entire Cuban people .
“The best tribute we can provide is the constant commitment to the advancement of our society. We must always remember him as a good man, of respect, worthy of these times, the undisputed leader of the Cuban Revolution, America and the world. In a certain way he will now multiply in every Cuban who considers him/herself a worthy follower of his work.”
In the morning of this Saturday, the educators of the Volodia pre-school day care center shared an inexplicable feeling.
Delia Rivero Tour noted, “To hear about the death of Fidel, I felt an unparalleled pain, an immense sadness, because he is an icon, for us and for the world, something very special. I can not find the right words to express what this loss means. I think that from now on, it is up to us to keep him alive, in the hearts of these little ones who did not have the privilege of knowing him as we did. I always remember his sensitivity toward children with a very beautiful phrase of his that goes, ‘a healthy child deserves everything, a sick child deserves more.’ I think those words say a lot about the man Fidel was.”
Her colleague, María Elena Botello Rivero, also expressed her feelings: “I can’t express with words what I felt on hearing the news as it is too big a sentiment. I believe he was a special person in the lives of all Cuban men and women. Few men like him are born in the world and his greatness, his dignity, will be spoken about for centuries. But we know that his ideals and doctrines will never die, as he will be present in our hearts. The figure of Fidel will always be engraved in history.”
For Zulema Hernández Silva, director of the Volodia center, the dawn of this November 26 was a very sad moment. “I think he’s like a kind of father to everyone. About five o’clock in the morning I noted the murmur in the neighborhood and when I heard the news I tried to convince myself that it was a lie. I went over to my husband and told him to turn on the television, because I did not believe the news and when we saw it, it was very hard for us. A few minutes later the CDR organizer came to our door, inconsolable, and I hugged her and said, it’s very hard, but we have to keep going, because his ideals must live on in the present and future generations of Cubans.”
This “energetic and virile” town is today allowed to cry. Not to make injustice tremble, but to say ‘forever yours’ to its eternal comandante, to tell the giant of Turquino to rest in peace, because the heirs of his work, we will never let him die.
In Guantánamo, 15 year-old, Dalila Mustelier Montero, vice president of the Federation of Secondary Students (FEEM) at Ramón Infante García Middle School: My great-grandfather has talked to me about Fidel a great deal, since I was born. And my whole family has been educated on this basis: this feeling of Cuban identity, of being revolutionaries, to leave behind everything you have to defend the homeland. Fidel was born into a comfortable family, so he didn’t have any need to go out and struggle. But nevertheless, he left it all so that today we can study free of charge, have doctors… He dreamed, and he struggled for what we have today.
Leonardo Aguilar, a retired transportation worker, gave his opinion in Guantánamo’s José Martí Park: I saw Fidel once when he came to Guantánamo, from a distance. I would have liked to shake his hand. His death is a transcendental event, but nothing is going to happen here. Raúl is still here, and later someone else will come along, and another, and another, so that the Revolution continues.