MIAMI (CBSMiami) — As many Cuban-Americans took to the streets to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro, the image on the island nation is dramatically different.
“Their reaction here is very different from what you’re hearing in Miami. It’s a very different scene in Cuba. People are shocked, stunned, nobody had any idea that he was seriously ill,” CBS News Producer Portia Siegelbaum.
She said the streets of Havana are very quiet, there is very little traffic as most people are at home watching the news.
“For most people, Fidel Castro was the person who put this island on the map and gave it an importance way beyond the size of the island itself. They turned it around from a place of prostitution and gambling and made it into a place known for its athletes, its artists, its health care system, the vaccines they are now testing in the United States, the cancer treatments that came out of the Cuban laboratories. There’s a lot of respect for him, especially in the older generation.”
The news of the former Cuban leader’s death was announced at about midnight. From then, the word has gone out.
“The special programming has been on since about 3 a.m. The word went out at nightclubs and bars and they made announcements and they closed their doors and threw all the customers out,” said Siegelbaum.
The news left many Cubans on the island stunned and some in tears.
“There was no indication that this was going to happen so people are quite shocked and stunned by Raul Castro’s announcement on TV tonight and there are people who are crying here that are very upset about Fidel’s passing,” said Siegelbaum.
Castro had met with the president of Vietnam and other foreign visitors and he looked okay in photos posted online.
Castro will be cremated, his funeral is set for December 4th.