Surprisingly, the president of Venezuela, Nicholas Mature, came to Cuba to commemorate the fifth death anniversary of Fiel Castro, as well as the inauguration of the Fidel Castro Ruz Center, a work that remembers the leader of the Cuban revolution.
The center, the first and only building on the island with the name of Fidel Castro, was officially opened in a ceremony led by the Cuban president, Miguel Diaz Canel, with the presence of the former president Raul Castro and senior leaders of the Communist Party.
The opening, broadcast on Cuban television and without opening speeches, was limited to a play by the La Colmenita children’s theater company, which Mature witnessed from the place of the special guests.
Maduro, who was not traveling to Cuba since December 2019, defined Fidel Castro as “a transcendental and unshakable hero who knew how to guide the Cuban people in the midst of difficulties,” according to a message posted on his Twitter account in the morning.
Castro (1926-2016) led the revolution against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Cambric. He triumphed in 1959, and then established a socialist regime that still lasts.
He fell ill in 2006, handing over power to his brother Raul, who at 90 is retired.
After a decade’s convalescence, Fidel Castro He passed away on November 25, 2016 at the age of 90.
Some Cubans remembered him this Thursday with nostalgia, although others say they did not miss him.
“Fidelista and Castro”
“I am a fidelista and a Castro. People do not really know the number of people that Fidel lifted out of poverty in this country. The blacks, the peasants, have to thank him all their lives,” he said. Juan Monduy, 71, who was part of Castro’s security team.
Rigoberto Celorio, an 85-year-old retired lieutenant colonel, believes he was the only one capable of getting ahead of trouble. “At this point (…) I would have done a lot more. As we say, I would have put my hand to the problems we have,” he says.
Five years after the death of Fidel Castro, the country is experiencing a deep economic crisis. GDP plummeted 11% in 2020, its biggest drop since 1993, causing food and medicine shortages. In addition, the tougher sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration endure with Joe Biden in the White House.
In recent years, a new generation has also emerged that demands rights and freedom of expression. And in this 2021 the historic demonstrations of July 11 occurred, followed by an attempted protest that was banned this month.
“With Fidel, these marches would not have been proposed,” he considers Celorio. But Enrique, a tourist from Santiago de Cuba (east) who did not want to give his last name, says he does not miss him “at all”.
“You want changes. How can you not want changes? But here you cannot express yourself freely. Look how many people are in jail for participating in the July 11 protest,” says the 32-year-old man.
At least 1,270 people were detained in the July protests, of which 658 remain in jail, according to the human rights NGO Cubalex.
“I am Fidel”
The commemorations began Wednesday night, when hundreds of students gathered at the University of Havana under heavy rain to remember the “Commander in Chief” with music, dance and words.
About 200 young Communists “red headscarves” held a boisterous march in honor of Castro.
“If Fidel is a communist, put me on the list” and “I am Fidel,” shouted the young people carrying white and red flowers and carrying a replica of the Granma, the yacht that brought Castro from Mexico to Cuba in 1956.
“We walk today with Fidel because we have faith in victory, “said 30-year-old activist Giselle Armas before starting the walk.
The march left the Don Quixote Park and he went to the Malecón, the same route that the opposition leader Yunior García tried to do on the 14th, dressed in white and with a rose. That solitary demonstration was prevented by the police who surrounded his house before he could leave.
As a culmination, the “red handkerchiefs” threw into the water the replica of the Granma, in which the emblematic slogan “Homeland or Death” was read.
Criticized by his adversaries, who accused him of worshiping his personality, Fidel Castro he asked that no monuments be made to him.
Fulfilling your wish turned into law, into Cuba There are no statues, no streets or parks in his honor, although his image is present in the country in multiple ways.
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