14ymedio, Havana, 4 December 2016 – After nine days of intense media frenzy, the final goodbye to Fidel Castro has taken place far from the national television cameras. The remains of the former president were placed in a mausoleum in Santa Ifigenia cemetery, in the early hours of Sunday in a private and simple ceremony, as stated by his brother Raul Castro.
The third highest official of the French government, Ségolène Royal, explained to AFP that, “There was no speech, it was very sober.”
The caravan with the ashes of Fidel Castro left Sunday at 6:40 AM local time from Antonio Maceo Plaza, heading to the famous cemetery where the remains of national hero José Martí lie, along with those of famous patriots of Cuban independence.
The ceremony inside the cemetery was attended only by family members of the deceased leader and “specially invited guests,” as confirmed by the national press. The cemetery remained closed throughout the duration of the farewell and guests entered through a private door, which prevented the press and hundreds of people waiting outside Santa Ifigenia from seeing them. Everything indicates that the guests included the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and Bolivia, Evo Morales, along with former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.
Castro’s crypt resembles an immense gray rock, which at its center has a niche covered with a marble plaque with the name “Fidel” inscribed on it in gold letters. Although the first images of the funeral monument, a few steps from that of José Martí, were published as of midmorning, television and the official press did not air the news until several hours later.
During the placement of the urn with the ashes of Castro in Santa Ifigenia, the official television only broadcast scenes of the massive event of the night before, which, according to official figures, involved more than half a million people and where President Raul Castro extolled voluntarism and the tenacity of his brother.
In the streets of Santiago and at the advance of the funeral procession, thousands of people shouted slogans such as “I am Fidel!” and “Long live Fidel!” The procession that moved the remains to the cemetery was presided over by the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, and deputy FAR ministers Ramón Espinosa Martin and Joaquin Quinta Solas.
The ashes of Fidel Castro arrived in Santiago de Cuba after a journey of almost 600 miles from Havana, that lasted about four days. The leader of the Revolution died on 25 November, at age 90.