HAVANA, Cuba — Cubans are observing 9 days of mourning following the death of former dictator Fidel Castro. In Miami, where many exiles fled when Castro came to power, many are celebrating and looking forward to better times in Cuba.
Massive crowds are expected today in Havana’s Revolution Plaza to pay tribute to Fidel Castro. 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.
Inside the Havana cathedral, Leticia Fonseca prayed and reflected. “Fidel Castro was someone that always helped us a lot,” she said. “Especially the Cuban community of the lower class.”
Castro’s ashes will go on a four-day island-wide procession starting Wednesday before being buried in the city of Santiago.
But 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.
Yvonne Rodriguez’s parents are from Cuba. She is optimistic for the future.
“We are extremely curious, we love the culture and we fell in love with Cuba without even going there.”
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.
(Hena Daniel, CBS News)