Fidel Castro died November 25, 2016 after ruling Cuba from 1959 - 2008 and outlasting 9 US presidents.  As his cremated ashes were driven from Havana to Santiago, Cubans lined the streets to pay their respects.  Tens of thousands arrived for the memorial service in Revolutionary Square.

I was struck by the heartfelt sorrow expressed by the people.  Many had the words “Yo Soy Fidel” written on their body.  Children dressed as “worker bees,” or in the tell tale green uniform of the revolution.  Adults wore the red and black armband marked with the infamous date of “26 Julio” when Castro first tried to overthrow the brutal dictator Batista. Others carried Cuban flags or wore them in their hair. 

I did not have the opportunity to speak with dissidents or discuss Castro’s suppression of those who opposed his policies. Physical conditions are decayed and there has not been much economic growth for 50 years.

These images show Fidel Castro’s funeral procession, Cubans attending the memorial service in Revolutionary Square on December 3, 2016 and Cubans in their community.