HAVANA – Cuba commemorates this Tuesday the 93rd birthday of former president and leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, who died in 2016 though he is said by current Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel to be more alive than ever.
“#Fidel is more alive than ever. Some 1,810,638 people in #Cuba and the rest of the world have gone spontaneously to the stone that guards his ashes in Santa Ifigenia in an act of faith, homage and commitment,” the government posted on Twitter, a reference to the number of people who have visited Castro’s tomb since his death.
In another message the government said that “today is the 93rd birthday of the heir to the legacy of Marti, an unvanquished leader who survived more than 600 assassination attempts and who confronted without concessions 11 administrations of the empire. #Fidel lives because his ideas live on.”
The commander, who governed the country for 50 years, died in Havana on Nov. 25, 2016, a decade after handing over power to his brother Raul due to a serious intestinal illness.
Castro’s remains lie in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, where they arrived more than a week after his demise following two days of funerals in Havana and then a parade around the island that reproduced, but in reverse, the Caravan of Liberty with which the victorious revolutionaries marched around the island in 1959 after ousting the Fulgencio Batista government.
Today Cuba’s two main daily newspapers, Granma and Juventud Rebelde, dedicated their front pages and many of the inside pages to the former president, whose name is multiplied on social networks, in some cases to praise him and in others to deplore him.
Among the appreciative thoughts are those of the “historic generation” like the octogenarian Commander Ramiro Valdes, who tweeted: “Not one school or hospital bears your name, but you are here and alive in every work of this great #Revolution. We see you every day looking around the fields, talking with workers and farm hands, thinking about new projects and participating in sports events. We love you that way, #Fidel.
The mention of schools and hospitals refers to Castro’s last wish that no monuments should be put up in his honor nor should public institutions be named after him.
On Dec. 27, 2016, that request was made into the law No. 123, which prohibits or regulates, depending on the case, the use of the ex-president’s name.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry recalled this Tuesday the “teachings of a life with a profound internationalist and humanist vocation” and said that “#Fidel Castro lives and will keep living.”
In the eastern Cuban town of Biran in Holguin province where the Castros were born, a crowd of youths celebrated the event at their campsite and today are touring a historic site – the house where Fidel as born – and later will attend a politico-cultural event, the state news agency Cubana de Noticias reported.
Also planned are concerts, sports events, a climb up Turquino peak – the highest in the country – while exhibitions have been inaugurated with photos of the former president, notably a show by the Prensa Latina news agency with historic shots of Alberto Korda, Roberto Salas, Rogelio More and Juan Muñoz, and another expo with pictures taken by Alex Castro, one of Fidel’s children.