Cubans are in nine days of mourning following the death of former president Fidel Castro Friday night. Mourners are also expected to gather at the monument to national hero Jose Marti (mahr-TEE’) in Havana. This morning, simultaneous 21-gun salutes will sound in Cuba’s capital Havana as well as the eastern city of Santiago, where Castro launched his revolution in 1953.
It’s been a subdued celebration — with no music — to mark the arrival of an American Airlines flight from Miami to Havana today. It’s the first commercial flight from the United States to the Cuban capital in more than 50 years, although flights have arrived in other Cuban cities. The U.S. and Cuba sighed a deal in February to restore commercial air traffic. Today’s arrival came even as tens of thousands of Cubans took part in the start of memorial services for Fidel Castro, who died Friday night.
Miami’s large Cuban-American community is mostly celebrating the death of Fidel Castro. Peaceful demonstrators have been on the streets of Little Havana since the announcement of Castro’s death this morning. Some see the former leader’s death as a sign that a generation that’s ruled Cuba for nearly 60 years is passing from the world stage. But others caution that much work remains to enact change in Cuba.
For the hundreds of thousands of children like Prio and Cancio born of Cuban exiles — some two and three generations removed from the island — Fidel Castro’s death potentially opens a door for change to a world long off-limits. Or at the least, it seems to bring it within closer reach.
President Barack Obama says the United States is extending “a hand of friendship to the Cuban people” as they mourn the death of Fidel Castro. In a statement, Obama says that in the coming days, Cubans “will recall the past and also look to the future.” He says as they do, “the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner” in America. Obama notes that “discord and profound political disagreements” marked the relationship between the United States and Cuba for nearly six decades, and that he has “worked hard to put the past behind us.”