MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Cubans are observing nine days of mourning following the death of former dictator Fidel Castro.
Cubans filled Havana’s Revolution Plaza Monday morning to pay tribute to Fidel Castro as a 21-gun salute sounded off in the capital.
Mourners will be allowed to sign a book of condolences, and on Tuesday a public ceremony is planned in the square.
The iron-fisted former dictator had numerous critics abroad, but in Cuba, where he ruled for nearly 50 years, many people admired him.
Victor Manuel said he felt like he had lost a patriarch, “the father of our family, the father of the revolution,” he said.
Castro’s ashes will go on a four-day island-wide procession starting Wednesday before being buried in the city of Santiago.
The mourning in Cuba is in stark difference from celebrations going on in Miami’s Little Havana where thousands of Cuban exiles live, more people are celebrating than grieving. Many considered him a brutal dictator that took freedom away from their families for decades.
Cuba remains a communist nation under Fidel’s brother Raul Castro. Cuban Exiles in Miami are planning a rally on Wednesday to demand freedom and democratic reforms in Cuba.
Schools and government offices are closed Monday throughout the island nation. Castro was cremated Saturday. His ashes will be interred Sunday in Santiago, the city where he launched the 1959 revolution.