HAVANA – About 70,000 people have visited the tomb of Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba over the past month since his interment, the island’s state-run media reported on Saturday.
The large gray stone marked simply “Fidel” under which Castro’s ashes have rested since Dec. 4 is visited by an average of 2,000 Cubans and foreigners daily, cemetery administrator Yudis Garcia said in a statement posted on the front page of the official daily Granma.
Garcia said that she is keeping in her office letters, flags and drawings that visitors – most of them Cuban citizens, but also foreigners from countries as diverse as Guatemala, Mexico, Japan and Italy – have brought to the tomb in tribute to Castro, who died on Nov. 25 at age 90.
Also visiting Castro’s tomb have been international dignitaries and personalities, including “a Saudi Arabian prince who promised not to cut his beard until he came to the tomb,” the administrator said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who attended the intimate interment ceremony for the Cuban leader, wrote in the tomb’s registry book that he had come to the site “with revolutionary fervor ... to pay tribute to the Father of all revolutionaries of Our Americas and the world.”
After being honored for two days on Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, Castro’s ashes were transported by caravan to Santiago de Cuba along the same – albeit reversed – route that Castro had taken from that city to Havana after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Castro’s tomb is located beside that of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.
To avoid the development of a personality cult and in compliance with Castro’s express wishes, the Cuban government approved a law prohibiting the use of his name and/or image by institutions, on monuments or for commercial ends.