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Cuban government declares nine days of mourning for Fidel Castro

Cuban government declares nine days of mourning for Fidel Castro

The Cuban government has declared nine days of mourning for Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader died at the age of 90.

His ashes will be carried across the island from Havana to the eastern city of Santiago in a procession retracing his rebel army's victorious sweep from the Sierra Maestra to the capital.

State radio and television were filled with non-stop tributes to Castro, playing hours of footage of his time in power and interviews with prominent Cubans affectionately remembering him.

Bars shut, baseball games and concerts were suspended and many restaurants stopped serving alcohol and planned to close early. Official newspapers were published on Saturday with only black ink instead of the usual bright red or blue mastheads.

From Monday, people will be able to pay respects before the ashes of the 90-year-old are taken to Santiago de Cuba where he launched his bid for power.

There were further celebrations in the US city of Miami, however, where many anti-Castro Cuban exiles and their families have settled.

Some world leaders have been paying tribute to the 20th-Century icon. But US President-elect Donald Trump said Castro had been a "brutal dictator".

His supporters viewed him as a man who stood up to America during the Cold War and returned Cuba to the people. His critics, however, called him a dictator.
Castro's death was announced on Friday night on state television by his younger brother and successor as president, Raul.

Music fell silent, weddings were cancelled and people wept in the streets the following day as Cubans faced their first day without the leader who steered their island to both greater social equality and years of economic ruin.

Across a hushed capital, dozens of Cubans said they felt genuine pain at the death of Fidel Castro, whose words and image had filled schoolbooks, airwaves and front pages since before many were born.

And in private conversations, they expressed hope that Castro's death will allow Cuba to move faster toward a more open, prosperous future under Raul Castro.