- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

In Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, hundreds of thousands paid tribute to images of Fidel Castro and signed oaths of loyalty to the socialist system he created. On the lonely roads of eastern Cuba, crowds waited for hours to salute the casket holding his ashes.

For four days, Associated Press photographers documented the mourning by Cubans as Castro’s ashes were carried across the island to their final resting place. It was a near-religious farewell to the man who ruled the country for nearly 50 years.

President Raul Castro said Saturday that Cuba will bar statues of Castro and monuments bearing his name, in keeping with the former leader’s desire to prevent the growth of a cult of personality. But for those watching state media, where Cubans endlessly described Castro in messianic, almost god-like terms, a cult of personality already seemed well underway.

Yet there was also a quieter, more contemplative mourning. A schoolgirl rested amid sugarcane stalks as her classmates waited for the passing of the caravan transporting Castro’s ashes toward his interment site in the eastern city of Santiago. A group of decorated veterans stood quietly in an eastern town. A farmer sat on a horse as the convoy approached, a small Cuban flag stuck in his straw hat.

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