The national nine-day mourning period began Saturday, as the nation woke up to the news that the man who had long been the face of their nation was gone.
“The Cuban people are feeling sad because of the loss of our commander in chief Fidel Castro Ruz, and we wish him, wherever he is, that he is blessed, and us Cubans love him,” a young Cuban woman told CNN,
Castro died Friday at 90. His brother, Raul Castro, announced his death in a televised statement.
“I say to the people of Cuba, with profound pain I come here to inform our people, our friends of America and the world, that today, 25 November, 2016, at 10:29 pm, died the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” Raul Castro said.
All activities and public performances will stop, and the flag will be flown at half-staff in public and military establishments. Radio and television will broadcast patriotic and historical programming, state news outlet Granma reported.
“He was a historic figure way out of proportion to the national base in which he operated,” said noted Cuba scholar Louis A. Perez Jr., author of more than 10 books on the Caribbean island and its history.
“Cuba hadn’t counted for much in the scale of politics and history until Castro,” said Wayne Smith, the top US diplomat in Cuba from 1979 to 1982.
Castro became famous enough that he could be identified by only one name. A mention of “Fidel” left little doubt who was being talked about.