The ashes of Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, were interred Sunday morning in the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba near the remains of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.
The funeral, described by Cuban President Raul Castro as a “simple ceremony,” comes on the final day of Cuba’s nine official days of mourning in the wake of Fidel’s death on Nov. 25.
Following the arrival of Fidel’s remains in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba Saturday night, hundreds of thousands of Cubans chanting “Yo soy Fidel,” meaning “I am Fidel,” filled the Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in an overnight vigil to memorialize the late leader, who died at the age of 90. Foreign dignitaries and leftist leaders also joined Raul Castro and the Cuban political leadership on stage to pay their final respects and immortalize the man who led the island nation and championed socialism and anti-imperialism, particularly in Latin America, for more than 50 years.
Fidel made it “possible to firmly maintain the inalienable principles of our sovereignty without fear to the nuclear blackmail of the United States during those days of the missile crisis in October 1962,” Raul Castro said during the gathering.
Fidel’s influence extended far beyond Cuba’s borders, seen in many of the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles around the world. From military and moral support of independence movements to the nation’s contributions in medicine, literacy, women’s rights and more, many who spoke on Saturday night as well as on Tuesday during the mass gathering in Havana described Fidel’s spirit as being palpable in this legacy.
Fidel’s ashes left Havana on Nov. 30 and traveled through the country for four days, arriving in Santiago de Cuba on Saturday.