Cuba to hold observance on 1-year anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death

MIAMI (WSVN) - Saturday marks one year since the death of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and the island is preparing for an official observance.

Castro ruled the island nation for nearly five decades after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 — until he turned power over to his brother Raul in 2008.

News of Castro’s death sent Cuban exiles across South Florida onto the streets — Cuban flags in hand — to celebrate the symbolic end to a regime marked by repression and tyranny.

“It’s wonderful. It’s a day we’ve been waiting for a very long time,” said one woman during the celebration.

But it was a much different scene in Cuba, where residents publicly grieved the loss of their leader.

The island observed several official days of mourning.

Castro’s ashes were placed in a granite boulder, the only official monument acknowledging the late leader.

Ceremonies marking the anniversary have been scheduled to take place across Cuba.

The tributes will coincide with the first round of municipal elections to select a replacement for current Cuban leader Raul Castro.

The polls will kick off a series of elections scheduled to end in February 2018, when the island’s first post-revolutionary leader will take power.

A lot has changed since Fidel Castro’s death. Two years after the Obama administration had reestablished diplomatic ties with the country, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.

Trips to the island must now be organized through approved groups, and visits to any hotel, restaurant or business with ties to the Cuban military have been prohibited.

The decision was reached months after the U.S.-Cuba relationship became even more strained.

The State Department withdrew all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Cuba after dozens of American diplomats suffered severe headaches and hearing loss as the result of a mysterious sonar attack.

The Cuban government has strongly denied any responsibility.

Raul Castro will lead a ceremony, Saturday, in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where his brother’s ashes are interred.

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