World leaders rally for late Fidel Castro

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World leaders in Cuba for late Fidel Castro rally
World leaders in Cuba for late Fidel Castro rally

World leaders pay respect to late Cuban former President Fidel Castro as tens of thousands of people filled Revolution Square for a rally in honour of the revolutionary leader.

Greece’s left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was among those who addressed the crowd.

The presidents of Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa and Zimbabwe also attended.

In his speech, South African President Jacob Zuma praised Cuba’s record on health care and education and its support for African countries.

The left-wing presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro, were among those who signed a book of condolences earlier on Tuesday at the Jose Marti memorial where a photograph flanked by an honour guard had been on display since Monday.

Another admirer of Fidel Castro, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, is joining the two presidents at the commemoration.

But many Western leaders are not attending the event in person.

Proceedings began with the national anthem and speeches were made by visiting dignitaries.

President Raul Castro closed the rally, referring to his brother Fidel as the leader of a revolution “for the humble, and by the humble”.

Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959, died on Friday, aged 90.

Left-wing Latin American leaders were among those attending the event but other countries sent lower-ranking emissaries.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.

Supporters say he returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programmes, such as public health and education.

But critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.

Revolution Square is where Cubans once gathered to listen to Fidel Castro’s fiery speeches.

The crowd chanted “long live the revolution!” and “Fidel! Fidel!” as the rally got under way.

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