Raul Castro leads memorial for late brother and revolutionary Fidel

World Today

Cuba’s President Raul Castro stands before the tomb of his brother, Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro, on the one year anniversary that Fidel was buried, in Santiago, Cuba, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule of Cuba, died at age 90 in Cuba on Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcelino Vazquez)

Cuba mourned its former leader on the anniversary of his burial. Fidel Castro is entombed in a Santiago cemetery alongside other Cuban revolutionaries. His brother, President Raul Castro, paid his respects as a political era also nears its end.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports from Havana.

Cuba’s President Raul Castro placed a white rose at his brother’s tomb, a year to the day after former leader Fidel Castro was laid to rest.

At one point, the dead Castro’s voice rang out around Santiago’s Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, as loudspeakers played one of his speeches, which is now inscribed in stone.

The early morning ceremony, broadcast live on Cuban television, began with a changing of the guard, which is perhaps symbolic of what is happening in Cuba today. Fidel, the historic leader of the Revolution, is gone, and early next year Raul Castro is due to step down as president.

The 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel is the man tapped to take his place.

Monday’s ceremony marked the end of a week-long series of commemorative events which began with a gala concert on Nov. 25 in Havana. Similar events followed in other parts of the island.

New photo exhibitions opened while state television ran documentaries and programs about Fidel. He ruled Cuba for more than half a century; the last great leader of the Cold War-era who created the only Communist-run island in the Western Hemisphere.

This is a transitional period for Cuba, and one of the messages the series of tributes to Fidel was meant to convey was that his ideals and the system he created live on.

“It is a message to those who want to change us and impose on us,” according to Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first vice president of Cuba. “This is a people that does not yield, and who decided long ago its fate, its sovereignty, its independence which we have come to reaffirm here.”

Once the official ceremony ended at the cemetery, thousands of young Cubans marched through Santiago, the final act of remembrance for Fidel Castro. The man they still called their Commander-in-Chief.