HAVANA – A strict nine-day mourning period will be observed to mark the death of Fidel Castro in Cuba, where tributes will be paid to the revolutionary leader during mass gatherings planned for Havana and the eventual burial site for his ashes, Santiago de Cuba.
The details of the homage to Castro were announced just hours after Cuban President Raul Castro announced on state television that his older brother had passed away on Friday night at the age of 90.
The island’s Council of State decreed the period of national mourning, saying that during that time all activities and public events on the island will be suspended and the nation’s flag will be flown at half-mast at public buildings and military installations.
An entity that had been set up specifically to organize the tributes to Castro has released a calendar of the ceremonies that will take place in honor of the revolutionary leader, whose ashes will be interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba on Dec. 4.
Castro had asked to be cremated upon his death, his brother Raul said in announcing his passing.
After the cremation, at a time yet to be announced, Castro’s ashes will carried across Cuba starting Nov. 30, a four-day journey that will recall the east-to-west “Caravan of Freedom” that he led to Havana in 1959 at the start of the revolution.
The ashes of the Cuban icon, who was born in the neighboring province of Holguin, will be interred on Dec. 4 in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Before the journey begins, Cubans will have two days to bid farewell to Castro in Havana’s emblematic Revolution Square, where he frequently delivered lengthy speeches denouncing the U.S. enemy.
Authorities said people may come to pay homage to the former Cuban president, in office from 1959 until he formally ceded power to his brother in 2008, at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana from 9:00 am Monday until noon on Tuesday.
During those two days, the population also will have the chance to “pay tribute and sign a solemn oath to comply with the concept of the revolution.”
On Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm, a mass gathering will take place at Revolution Square.
A mass gathering also is planned for Dec. 3 in Santigo de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo Square once Castro’s ashes have arrived in that city.
Among the events that have been postponed during the nine-day mourning period is a much-anticipated concert that Spanish tenor Placido Domingo was to have given Saturday at Havana’s Great Theatre.