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August 23, 2017
Monday, November 28, 2016

Cubans throng Revolution Square in mourning for Fidel Castro

Cubans began lining up five hours in advance of a mass gathering in Havana's Revolution Square on Monday to commemorate Fidel Castro, the guerrilla leader who led a leftist revolution in 1959 and ruled the Caribbean island for half a century.

Castro died on Friday at the age of 90, a decade after stepping down due to poor health and ceding power to his brother Raul Castro.

Castro was cremated on Saturday and the government has declared a nine-day period of mourning. His ashes will be carried in a cortege to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, the city in eastern Cuba where he launched the revolution.

The government has invited people to Havana's Revolution Square for a two-day ceremony that started at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) with a thunderous cannon salute that could be heard throughout much of the capital.

People began queuing up as early as 4 a.m. to be at the head of one of three lines of mourners entering a square that has been central to Cuba's recent history, and where Castro gave many of his rousing, lengthy speeches.

Mourners paraded by a photo of a young Castro dressed in military fatigues and gazing into the distance with a rifle and pack slug over his back. A military honor guard and some civilians flanked the photo and an arrangement of white flowers.

The ceremony in the capital will end on Tuesday night when foreign leaders are expected to pay their respects.

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