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Cubans hold mass rally for late leader Fidel Castro

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HAVANA: Hundreds of thousands of Cubans packed Havana’s Revolution Square on Tuesday for a massive rally in honor of late leader Fidel Castro.

The crowd chanted “long live the revolution!” and “Fidel! Fidel!” as Castro’s leftist Latin American allies and other leaders from the region and Africa joined the commemoration.

A giant picture of a young, bearded Castro in his guerrilla uniform and rifle hung on the National Library as his brother and successor, Raul Castro, waved at the crowd.

Castro — who ruled from 1959 until an illness forced him to hand power to his brother Raul in 2006 — died Friday at age 90. The cause of death has not been announced.

The event was part of week-long commemorations honoring Castro.

Encouraged by the government, long lines of Cubans tearfully had streamed past a picture of Castro inside the monument to independence hero Jose Marti on Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday, an urn containing his ashes will be taken on a four-day procession from Havana to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, retracing the route that Castro took to celebrate his victory in the 1959 celebration.

The ashes will be laid to rest in Santiago at the cemetery where Marti, the 19th century independence icon, was buried.

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