News Channel 8’s Jeff Patterson has been in Cuba this week, covering the response to longtime leader Fidel Castro’s death. The island nation has been in mourning.
Watch Jeff’s report from Saturday, December 3.
Mourning for Castro has reached near-religious peaks of public adulation across Cuba since his death at age 90 on Nov. 25. Huge crowds have been shouting his name and lining the roads to salute the funeral procession carrying his ashes from Havana to the eastern city of Santiago.
By midday on Friday, the cortege had reached the city of Las Tunas, some 1,450 miles east of Havana.
Las Tunas residents shouted, “I am Fidel!” as the seven-vehicle caravan sped by, some waving little Cuban flags and others capturing the moment with cameras on their cellular phones.
In the cities some of the ceremony has been undercut by grumbling about Cuba’s autocratic government, inefficient bureaucracy and stagnant economy. The outpouring has seemed the most heartfelt in Cuba’s east, the region his ashes are crossing Friday.
Castro was born in eastern Cuba. His revolution started here, and it’s here and in other parts of rural Cuba where his campaigns for literacy, social welfare and land redistribution had their deepest impact.
“Before the revolution, the countryside wasn’t what you see now,” Toledo said. “My parents were sharecroppers, cane-cutters. They did what they could to support a family of 12, but they couldn’t even sign their names. When they died they were literate and had a house with electricity, television and a refrigerator.”