CAMAGUEY, Cuba - The remains of Fidel Castro arrived in the city of Camaguey, almost 600 kilometers from Havana, marking the second stop of the funeral procession carrying the ashes of the former Cuban president to his final dwelling in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Thursday began very early in Santa Clara, where the remains of "Che" Guevara rest, when the caravan with Castro's ashes began the second day of its trip to the east of Cuba.
Tens of thousands of people in Santa Clara lined up at dawn to participate in the farewell, including veterans who were part of the revolution and served in Castro's guerrilla forces.
After traveling about 250 kilometers, the caravan arrived in Camaguey, where thousands of people remained on the shoulders of the Central Highway, waiting to watch the passage of the procession under constant gentle rains.
After arriving, the urn containing the ashes of Castro, who died on Nov. 25 at age 90, was deposited in the Jimauyu Hall in Ignacio Agramonte Square, where he will stay overnight watched over by an honor guard.
The procession is scheduled to resume its trip at 7am local time on Friday towards Bayamo, where Castro will also stay another night before entering Santiago de Cuba on Saturday.
There, in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, Castro will be buried on Sunday after completing the trip from Havana to this eastern city, the opposite way to the journey made from Jan. 2 to 8, 1959, by the so-called "Freedom Caravan" after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Pablo Chacon Betancon, one of the veterans who 57 years ago traveled in the Freedom Caravan with Castro, told EFE in Santa Clara that he had "the honor" of serving in the column of the president "in all actions and in all years after the first of January."
"As he was the greatest man that was born on this earth for us, we loved him and we will love him until the last second of our life, and we will fight to make his legacy of revolution clear until we close our eyes," he said.
Transportation for people from communities near the Central Highway to attend the passage of the funeral procession has been carefully planned by the local authorities.
Men, women and children are transported in trucks and buses at the beginning of each day and many of them stay up to 12 hours by the curb of the road to see the procession of Castro's ashes passing for a few seconds.
"I am from the 80s generation and he was the father of us. We owe it all to him," said Yail Caperna, who woke up at 3.30 am in order to join the event.