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Cuba set for farewell for historic leader Fidel Castro

By afp

Added 28th November 2016 07:55 AM

Students left candles burning next to a portrait of the black-bearded communist firebrand during a vigil at Havana University.

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Students left candles burning next to a portrait of the black-bearded communist firebrand during a vigil at Havana University.

 

Nightclubs closed, baseball games were suspended and booze was banned Sunday as Cuba prepared to send off revolutionary leader Fidel Castro with days of tributes and a cross-country funeral procession.

Cubans braced for a series of events to commemorate the life of the man who ruled the communist island for decades, played a major role in the Cold War and was loved or loathed by many.

Students left candles burning next to a portrait of the black-bearded communist firebrand during a vigil at Havana University.

A giant photo of Castro was hung outside the National Library on Revolution Square, where throngs of people are expected to pay their last respects Monday and Tuesday, kicking off a series of memorials.

The portrait shows a young Fidel carrying a backpack and rifle during the Cuban Revolution, which brought him to power in 1959.

A titan of the 20th century who beat the odds to endure into the 21st, Castro died late Friday after surviving 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts. No cause of death was given.

"It is a great loss. The most important thing is that he died when he chose, not when all the counter-revolutionaries wanted," said Carlos Manuel Obregon Rodriguez, a 43-year-old taxi driver in Havana.

"It may not be painful for everyone, but it is for a lot of people. I was born under this revolution and I owe Fidel a lot," he added.

President Raul Castro said his older brother's remains would be cremated. There was no official confirmation of whether that had yet happened.

Dissidents who endured Fidel's iron-fisted rule kept a low profile. The Ladies in White opposition group cancelled a regular Sunday protest in what they said was a show of respect for those mourning Castro.

"We are not happy about the death of a man, a human being. We are happy about the death of dictators," Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, told AFP.

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