At the age of 90 years old, Fidel Castro, who governed the Republic of Cuba for 47 years as Prime Minister and then President, died on November 25, 2016.
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 [EST] this evening,” said his brother and President Raúl Castro. Castro was then cremated the following day, prior to a weekend service.
The United States traditionally sends representatives to the funerals or memorial services of foreign leaders, but according to Fox News Latino, President Obama was put in a tough position considering Castro’s criticism and antagonization of the United States.
On average, more than 8 million people fly every day. Not too many of those flights are headed to Cuba to pay respects in such an awkward way. President Obama and U.S. officials, however, have been trying to improve U.S. and Cuban relations and shine a light on the potential for a more connected future with the Cuban people.
Ben Rhodes, U.S. deputy national security advisor, and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who’s awaiting confirmation by the U.S. senate to become the ambassador to Cuba, were selected to attend Castro’s funeral, which took place on November 27.
“Cuba is going through a moment of profound shock,” said Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. “I came to be present during a moment of pain from the loss of my brother, my friend.”
On Tuesday, November 29, a second day of remembrance was added, allowing the hundreds of thousands of Cuban residents to pay their respects.
Although some U.S. citizens have mixed emotions about the loss of Castro, many people in both Cuba and across the rest of the world are saddened about the present but optimistic about the future.
“Fidel is more alive than ever, more necessary than ever,” President Morales added. “He’s alive, vigilant, contemplating our common cause. The Cuban people are stronger than ever and ready to fight imperialism. And the anti-imperialists of the world are united like never before.”
USA Today reports that Morales, among others, hailed Castro for successfully fighting back against the U.S. and its “imperialist” ways.
“His death is another revolution,” said Fidel Díaz, whose daughter worked closely with Castro as a medical examiner. Díaz believes that Castro’s death will encourage many to “rediscover the ideas of the commander for the new generations.”