The Latest: No tears shed by Miami exiles for Castro funeral

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2016 11:35 AM
The Latest: No tears shed by Miami exiles for Castro funeral

SANTIAGO, Cuba (AP) — The Latest on the interment of Fidel Castro in Santiago, Cuba (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

Cuban exile Armando Garcia was at the Versailles restaurant in Miami's Little Havana on Sunday when Fidel Castro was being interred in the island's eastern city of Santiago.

Regulars sipped espressos and smoked cigars at the restaurant that serves as a hub for exiles in South Florida.

Garcia is a 76-year-old retired electronics salesman who left Cuba in 1963. He said Castro's funeral offered no simple closure for those people who left the country chafing under his rule. But Garcia added that the moment did represent a "light at the end of the tunnel" in hopes for democracy on the island.

Garcia said it was painful to see leaders in some Latin American countries praising Castro "'for supposedly liberating the poor, when in reality he has enslaved the poor."

He joked that there was no sadness at the restaurant over Castro's interment, calling it "the best funeral ever."

Garcia said, "Look at us. No one is crying, everyone is happy, no need for handkerchiefs. It's a party."

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10:25 a.m.

Photographs taken by the Cuban national press show President Raul Castro dressed in an olive green uniform as he presides over the interment of his older brother Fidel.

The images were seen by The Associated Press after the Sunday morning ceremony in the eastern city of Santiago.

The photos also show Fidel Castro's wife and sons and presidents Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.

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10 a.m.

France's representative at Fidel Castro's funeral is drawing fire for shrugging off concerns about Cuban human rights and political prisoners.

French environment and energy minister Segolene Royal told reporters in Cuba on Saturday that the world should look at the country's accomplishments "positively." When asked about human rights concerns, the Socialist minister said "there's a lot of disinformation."

She says, "When you ask for a list of political prisoners, there isn't one. So show me a list of political prisoners and at that point we can do something."

French politicians from left and right and Amnesty International have been criticizing her for defending a man who built a one-party system that exercised political repression on dissidents. Royal stood by her position Sunday.

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9:45 a.m.

Cubans are being allowed briefly inside the cemetery where Fidel Castro has been interred in Santiago to see his tomb.

It is a simple round stone about 15 feet high with an emerald-colored plaque bearing his name.

The tomb stands to the side of a memorial to the rebel soldiers killed in an attack that Castro led on Santiago's Moncada barracks on July 26, 1953, and in front of the mausoleum of Cuban national hero Jose Marti.

A dozen uniformed soldiers are standing in front of Castro's tomb.

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9 a.m.

Exiles in Miami say they aren't planning to watch news coverage of the funeral. Waves of Cubans have emigrated to South Florida to escape political repression or other hardships since Castro's 1959 revolution.

Miriam de la Pena is the mother of a pilot killed in 1996 in Cuban airspace while trying to rescue people leaving the island. She says watching the coverage would cause "a lot of pain."

She says, "It is not pleasant to watch because all the pain comes back, all the suffering that we have been through because of him."

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8:55 a.m.

Fidel Castro's ashes have been interred in a private ceremony in the Santa Ifigenia ceremony in the eastern city of Santiago.

The Russian jeep that carried his ashes across Cuba could be seen leaving the cemetery around 8:50 a.m., and military officers outside the cemetery said the ceremony had ended.

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8:35 a.m.

The private interment ceremony for Fidel Castro is still under way at Santa Ifigenia cemetery in eastern Cuba.

Martial music can still be heard from outside the cemetery, where mourners gathered.

Ines de la Rosa said Sunday she would have liked to watch the ceremony on television, but "we understand how they as a family also need a bit of privacy."

Fellow mourner Elena Vinales says she wasn't surprised that the images of the ceremony were not broadcast. She says, "It seems to be a family moment."

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7:20 a.m.

The crowds lining the road into the cemetery for Fidel Castro's funeral are singing Cuba's national anthem and shouting, "Viva Fidel!"

The caravan entered the cemetery, but the road has been crowded and access for the press has been blocked.

The ceremony is not being broadcast live on television as expected.

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7:15 a.m.

Fidel Castro's ashes have arrived at a Santiago, Cuba cemetery to mark the start of funeral ceremonies for Fidel Castro.

The salute sounded in the capital, Havana, as Castro's ashes before they were taken to the cemetery in eastern Cuba where they will be interred at the end of a nine-day waiting period.

In the eastern city of Santiago, thousands of people lined the short route from the Plaza of the Revolution to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery waving Cuban flags and shouting "I am Fidel!"

The caravan carrying the ashes arrived at the cemetery around 7:15 a.m. as a 21-salute was also fired in Santiago.