MIAMI: Cuban–Americans who hated Fidel Castro celebrated Sunday to mark his death, dance, sing and honk horns for the second day.
Crowds spread to the streets of Little Havana on Friday night as news of the death of the 90-year-old revolutionary leader in Cuba spread. The festival has not stopped since.
“I am not tired of celebrating because I can not believe it. I never thought that this moment will happen,” said a woman named Delsy who refused to give her name. She celebrated with a large crowd in front of the Versailles cafe, where the exiles met in the heyday of the Cold War to track the overthrow of the Castro regime.
About two million Cubans live in the United States, nearly 70 percent in Florida. The vast majority of those living in Miami and many have seen Castro as a brutal tyrant.
The streets that had been closed because of the crowd reopened Sunday reopen that the authorities tried to restore a semblance of normality. But then they had to close them.
Among the cacophony of horns, drums, loud music and singing, a song sounds: “Fidel, tyrant, take your brother too!
Fidel Castro may be gone, but his younger brother Raul, aged 85, remains in power as president of the single communist state led by only one party.
A gathering demanding freedom and democratic reforms in Cuba was convened Wednesday in Havana.
It will coincide with the beginning of a four-day procession in which the remains of Castro will be taken around the island of 11 million for people to pay their respects.
“The tyrant is dead, but the tyranny continues,” said activist Orlando Gutierrez of the Cuban Resistance Assembly.
A few blocks to the east, the famous disco Ball & Chain salsa offers discounts and a new drink: “Adios Fidel”.
The place was full of people Saturday night. The street outside, full of Cuban restaurants and bars, was filled with pedestrians and late night guests.
In a nearby corner, the Cuban retirees were sitting outside, enjoying the warm, wet night as they discussed the future of the island.
“Now, we Cubans, we hope that without Fidel, communism will fall, and if God allows, we can return to our free country,” said Vicente Abrez, 65.
However, Leticia Gallo, a 44-year-old therapist who arrived in Miami from Cuba seven years ago with a young son, does not believe that Castro’s death will immediately change much.
Yet, “it’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
A small group of women from the Women in White movement – founded by wives and other female family members of former Cuban political prisoners – marched on Sunday in a street named for them in Miami.
Pray for Cuba
A particularly important crowd gathered for mass at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba, where the Miami archbishop Thomas Wenski led the service on Saturday.
“Fidel Castro is dead, now he is waiting for the judgment of God, which is merciful but also just,” Wenski said, urging the faithful to pray “for peace for Cuba and its people.”
The Mass was solemn and the scene was far from being celebrated. Some women have wiped tears.
Elsewhere, many Cuban artists have made their voices heard. Emilio Estefan, husband of star singer Gloria Estefan, said that Cuba is now facing “a new dawn with a new sun full of hope.”
The famous musicians Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera and Jon Secada joined the Miami celebration.
Castro “separated our people and made us hate each other,” said Sandoval’s musician.
Politicians also lined up to mark the occasion.
Cuba’s Cuban-American mayor, Tomas Regalado, visited revelers Saturday afternoon, telling reporters that they “should not be criticized for having celebrated” someone’s death. “Understand what that means” to them, he said.
Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, said he would join Cuban-Americans across the country “who are incredibly confident for the future of Cuba.”
“After decades of oppression, the Cuban people deserve freedom, peace and democracy,” the Republican added in a statement.
Cuban–American Senator Florida Marco Rubio called Castro Saturday a “wicked and murderous dictator.”
He told CNN on Sunday that it was “pathetic” that Obama, in a statement on Castro, did not mention the “thousands of thousands of people who suffered brutally under the regime (Castro)” or who is Dead while trying to escape.