Exuberant Cubans in Miami flood streets, celebrate Castro’s death
The streets of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood were celebrating early Saturday morning the death of Fidel Castro, a Cuban revolutionary whose dictatorial style defined Cuban politics for nearly 50 years and triggered mass waves of migration to the U.S.
Cuban President Raul Castro announced his brother’s death on Cuban state television just after 12 a.m. EDT. Following the announcement, at least a thousand people filled Calle Ocho near “iconic exile hangout” Versailles Cuban restaurant, the Miami Herald reported. They marched, banged pots and pans, danced and chanted, “Cuba si! Castro no!” Others gathered in Hialeah and and Kendall in Miami-Dade County.
Since the Castro-led communist revolution in Cuba toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, several waves of Cuban migration have formed a strong community in Miami. Some of the first arrivals in 1959 were exiled Batista supporters, followed by Cubans who saw their property confiscated under Castro’s rule.
Over the years, as Cuba’s economy deteriorated, political dissidents faced harsh punishment and repressed political freedoms forced thousands more Cubans to flee to the U.S., many of them settling in Miami.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who was born in Cuba, joined the crowd outside Versailles restaurant. “I think what’s happening right now is a sign of solidarity with the people of Cuba,” he told the Miami Herald.
Reporters tweeted from the scene of the celebrations.
— Danny Rivero (@TooMuchMe) November 26, 2016
Cubans march down Calle Ocho in Little Havana in Miami celebrating Fidel Castro's death (raining & almost 2am but that won't stop the party) pic.twitter.com/LxvWAuxGsO
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) November 26, 2016
“After decades of oppression, the Cuban people deserve freedom, peace and democracy. I have met so many Cubans who have come to Florida to flee the tyranny, brutality, and communism of the Castro brothers’ oppressive regime,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.
Castro will be cremated and mourned for nine days in Cuba, with an official funeral scheduled for Dec. 4 in Santiago de Cuba.
See more photos from celebrations in Miami below.