HAVANA – Some 150,000 Cubans and foreigners have visited the grave where the ashes of Revolutionary leader and former President Fidel Castro are interred in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, state-run media reported Monday.
The pantheon – which was opened to the public on Dec. 4, 2016 – includes a large gray stone brought from the Sierra Maestra mountains, where Castro took up arms and led the guerrilla force that brought him to power in 1959, and has received an average of 2,000 visitors per day over the past two months, cemetery administrator Yudis Garcia said.
Island authorities forecast that the site will quickly be visited by 1 million people, given the number of visitors to date and the anticipated flow during the “heavy” months of July and August, according to an article on the front page of Granma newspaper.
Garcia said that about 30,000 foreign visitors have been to the monument, noting that among the offerings dedicated to Castro that have been left at the gravesite have been a flag presented by the Argentine Judicial Federation, a banner from a group of Italian supporters and a poem composed by Iranian admirers.
The tomb of the revolutionary leader, which simply bears the inscription “Fidel” on a plaque with gilded lettering, is located beside the mausoleum of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.
Historian Martha Hernandez emphasized the “symbolism” of being able to impart Castro’s legacy while identifying him with Marti’s ideology, since nobody visits Castro’s grave without simultaneously visiting Marti’s.
She also emphasized the historical value of other Cuban figures whose remains also rest in the same cemetery.
Castro died on Nov. 25, 2016, at age 90 and his remains were interred after being taken by authorities on a tour of the communist island following the Central Highway along the reverse route to that of the “Caravan of Freedom” that the Cuban leader followed in 1959 upon the triumph of the Revolution.