EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2018 – On Saturday, Raúl Castro ended a week in which he participated in several funeral ceremonies in eastern Cuba. With his presence at the mausoleum of the ‘Frank País’ Second Eastern Front, the site of the niche where he himself will be interred, the ruler added a new act to his intense “obituary” route of last year.
Four months before leaving the presidency,on January 13 Castro, 86, attended the burial ceremony of 104 soldiers of the Rebel Army column that fought under his direction.
The official ceremony held in the former headquarters that was led by Castro, was attended by the highest echelons of the government, including first vice president Miguel Díaz-Canel, who is expected to succeed the current president this coming April.
Two days earlier, the president presided over a similar act in the Mausoleum of the ‘Mario Muñoz’ Third Eastern Front
As he passed through that part of the island, several opposition activists denounced house arrests and an increase in surveillance, according to reports that arrived in 14ymedio’s Editorial Office from Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey.
State TV broadcast images of the mausoleum, located in the mountains of the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, totally covered by a strong haze early in the morning.
The event began with the arrival of uncovered vehicles that brought the 104 urns to the mausoleum, where family members, officers of the Cuban Armed Forces and former combatants of the Rebel Army that had been led by the late Fidel Castro (1926-2016), were already waiting.
the program listed the names of the soldiers and the military grades they held in the rebel army along with those they held at the time of their deaths.
During the main speech, the ruling Communist Party of Cuba’s number two man, José Ramón Machado Ventura, mentioned that the ceremony was taking place more than a year after the death of Fidel Castro, the “commander-in-chief” of the insurrection.
Machado Ventura, who was also a member of the Second Eastern Front, added that it was the leader of the Cuban Revolution who had the idea of creating the Fronts of the Rebel Army, to extend the struggle of the eastern mountains to the whole country.
“The decision to turn the dream (of freedom) of several generations of revolutionaries into reality brought to these mountains more than a hundred compañeros, whose ashes, by their own will, will rest here, in the place where the transcendental moments of their lives took place,” he added.
Of the 104 combatants interred, only six fell in combat and the rest spent their remaining lives supporting the “revolutionary process,” said Machado Ventura.
Before leaving, Raul Castro visited the great monolith – similar to that of the tomb of his brother Fidel – marked with the names of Vilma and Raúl, where the remains of his wife Vilma Espín (1930-2007) are already resting and within which the current president has decided to be interred when he dies.
On 11 January of this year, the Cuban president presided over a similar ceremony at the mausoleum of the ‘Mario Muñoz’ Third Eastern Front, also in the territory of Santiago de Cuba, where the remains of 33 former combatants were deposited.
There he paid tribute to the deceased leader of that column, one of the ‘historic generation’ of the Revolution, Juan Almeida (1927-2009).
Raul Castro, who must leave power this coming April after completing two five-year terms, also attended, last October, a solemn ceremony to commemorate the relocation of the remains of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and Mariana Grajales, famous figures of Cuba’s nineteenth century wars of independence.
The remains of both patriots were relocated to new monuments in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the city of Santiago de Cuba, where they had already been interred, to locations closer to the tombs of the national hero José Martí and ex-president Fidel Castro. The re-interment ceremony did not include observance of the rituals that would normally be carried out in keeping with the Catholic faith of the long-deceased, and thus generated intense controversy among Catholics, as it did among the descendants of Céspedes and Grajales, who were not consulted or even informed in advance about the relocation of their ancestors’ remains.
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