Cubans gather to bid farewell to their longtime leader, Fidel Castro

Cuba

Cubans gather to bid farewell to their longtime leader, Fidel Castro

Cubans are lining the streets to watch Fidel Castro’s long goodbye unfold, as Castro’s ashes continue the journey to Santiago, Cuba.

CCTV’s Sean Callebs reports from Cuba.

Cubans gather to bid farewell to their longtime leader, Fidel Castro

Cubans are lining the streets to watch Fidel Castro's long goodbye unfold, as Castro's ashes continue the journey to Santiago, Cuba. CCTV’s Sean Callebs reports from Cuba.

Hideliza Linares was just two years old when Castro came to power.

“I have felt very sad, because I was practically born with the revolution. I grew up with this revolution, I got accustomed to see in this figure, our Commandant,” Linares said.

A stone’s throw from the small cantina in the town of Taguasco, which is 250-kilometers outside of Havana, countless vehicles rolled by, jam packed with dozens of people each. It is all part of the Cuban government’s “mobilization” effort to help thousands say a final farewell to Castro.

“I still believe that in many ways, he is still alive, that he is not gone, he will stay with us,” Linares said.

However, not all Cubans were lining the streets.

Surinys Fernandez is a 25 year-old mother working to provide for her two children, and therefore won’t be able to watch the caravan pass by. Fernandez is “Cuesta Propista,” meaning self-employed, she sells sweets, and homemade desserts. Fernandez is taking advantage of government reforms and owns her small stand, where she sells her sweets.

It would have been “something big” to “have the opportunity to reach out and touch him and feel him, but unfortunately I couldn’t. Young people are feeling the loss because we have a lot to thank him for,” Fernandez said.

Close to the town of Ciego de Avila, traffic jams have become common, with police blocking roads to allow Castro’s procession wind its way through the national highway, along with the back roads so that thousands of spectators could pour into the streets.

Further down the route, in the shadow of the Sierra Maestras, the memories may have been different, but the sentiments were similar.

“All of the houses of the neighbors around here had to have an underground shelter so that we could survive the bombing and the shooting from the planes that were searching for the rebel army,” said Jose “Pepin” Trappeau, who is a Cuban farmer. Trappeau was seven when Fidel Castro’s guerrilla forces hid, and launched missions in the mountains.

Trappeau’s father risked death, smuggling uniforms to Castro’s band of fighters.

Now, Trappeau owns 50 acres of land by the Sierra Maestra, where he tends to his horses, cows, and goats. Even though Castro had been in failing health, Trappeau is devastated by the loss.

“Actually, it is hard for me to talk about that,” Trappeau said, adding” this happens to me when I watch him on TV, even the most hardened person would cry, it’s tough.”