World leaders bid farewell to Fidel Castro on Tuesday night in a ceremony filled with a solemn memorial for the fallen communist dictator and collective admonishment of imperialism and the U.S.
Presidents, prime ministers and diplomats from Ecuador to China to South Africa took to a podium in Cuba’s Plaza of the Revolution, where Castro himself had delivered so many of his hours-long, fiery speeches before massive crowds.
Castro was hailed as the father of Cuba’s communist revolution, who brought health care, education and military might to his people.
The vice president of Iran, Majid Ansari said Castro’s name would go down among the most important independence fighters in human history. The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro has described El Comandante as a father figure who founded his country’s socialist ideals.
President Bolivia, Evo Morales hailed Castro for successfully fighting back the U.S and leaving the “anti-imperialist” people of the world ready to continue the fight.
“Fidel is more alive than ever, more necessary than ever. He’s alive, vigilant, contemplating our common cause,” Morales said.
“The Cuban people are stronger than ever and ready to fight imperialism. And the anti-imperialists of the world are united like never before.”
Tuesday’s ceremony in Havana, filled with nearly 4 hours of speeches, marked the most high-profile event of a week full of services for the communist leader. On Wednesday, his ashes will begin a slow procession across the island, ending in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where they will be interred alongside Cuba’s independence leader Jose Marti.
Heads of state from allies around the world were absent on Tuesday, including President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Despite the recent diplomatic opening initiated by President Obama, he did not attend, sending a White House adviser and the chief of the United States mission in Havana in his place.
Still, the U.S. played a prominent role in the speeches delivered Tuesday as many praised Castro for his fight against the Yankees.
President Maduro accused former President George W. Bush of trying to assassinate former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa took specific aim at the Cuban-American community in Miami, which he referred to as “Cuba North” that had repeatedly tried, and failed, to take down Castro.
“They have not invaded Cuba because they can’t defeat an entire population,” Correa said.
Raul Castro, who rose to power when Fidel fell ill in 2006, ended the night remembering the many times he and his brother celebrated victories in the Plaza of the Revolution. That included the times when Fidel stood in the face of the United States aggression, declaring that in Cuba,
“There’s a dignified people prepared to defend its independence and the common destiny of a liberated Latin America.”
Photos: Miami Herald