People react to a tribute to Cubas late President Fidel Castro inside the Jose Mart Memorial in the Plaza de la Revolucin on Monday. Photo: Edgard Garrido/ Reuters
He was the lighting in the lighthouse. More than any other leader, he unified Latin America, said Reyes, who has lived in Havana since the 1990 s.
Many turned up in groups, bearing flags or wearing the uniforms of customs officers or doctors. Im here because he gave me the chance to enter medicine, said Beatriz de la Cruz Quila, a 21 -year-old medical student at the Institute of Gastrointestinal Medicine one of several dozen institutions made after Castro took power in 1959.
The commemoration will continue in Havana until a ceremony on Tuesday night.
Then on Wednesday, Castros ashes will begin a three-day procession east across the island, going back along the route the victorious rebel army took from the Sierra Maestra to the capital to topple Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
Castros remains will be interred on Sunday morning in Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago, which is also the resting place of Jos Mart, the hero of the 19 th-century war of independence against Spain.
That will mark the end of nine days of mourning. Since Fidels death on Friday night, the media have run blanket coverage of tributes, interviews, historical documentaries and footage of diplomatic trip-ups and speeches by Castro. Musical performances have been cancelled and bars have been prohibited from selling alcohol.
Theres a genuine impression of mourning, thats not a formality, thats not showy, thats not outward-focused, but instead altogether intimate, the former national assembly president Ricardo Alarcn said on state television on Sunday.
Not everyone is grief-stricken. Republic activists have cheered the demise of a leader who repressed political opponents, denied freedom of speech and limited travelling and religious worship.
One woman at the Plaza de la Revolucin, who are dedicated her first name Milena, said she was sad but determined to take something positive from the moment. He should be remembered as a revolutionary who believed in social justice and fought for free public health and education. We need to maintain this. His ideas should live forever