by Raimundo Urrechaga
HAVANA, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Cubans commemorated on Sunday the 91st birthday of their former president, Fidel Castro, the first one since his death, by remembering his legacy in major social and economic changes in this Caribbean nation.
Above the streets of the Cuban capital were billboards with the images of Castro while state institutions and private companies have also posted photos of the former leader.
For some Cubans, the date has a sad connotation because Castro is no longer alive, but many others view the day as a special time to commemorate his ideas and legacy.
“Fidel left us a legacy in terms of his revolutionary ideas. He always had in mind that ideas were very strong to sow a good future for our country,” Adria Amaro, a young university student, told Xinhua.
“Although we no longer have Fidel present among us, the most important thing is that his ideas last and his struggle was not in vain because today millions of people continue the revolution he started,” she said.
It was on the very day in 2016 when Castro was last seen in public to celebrate his 90th birthday with more than 5,000 people and the famous children’s theater group La Colmenita.
On Nov. 25, Cuba’s longtime revolution leader died, which plunged its people in disbelief and sadness.
“For us Fidel did not die, his ideas are alive. We will continue to remember him every year and he is the greatest revolutionary of all time,” Luis Varona, a state worker, told Xinhua.
For Cubans, Castro is undoubtedly a universal reference who dedicated his life to working for the majorities and spreading the idea of solidarity around the world.
“We must remember Fidel as a leader, someone who did a lot for the Cuban people and worked to make this country a better place,” said Yaniel Hudson, another young worker.
Others highlighted Castro’s distinctive personality and his impact on world politics in a period of time marked by the Cold War and tensions with the United States.
“He built Cuba into a model of solidarity, social justice and international cooperation,” Sofia Rodriguez said.
Castro and his socialist revolution brought back the sense of national dignity, sovereignty and independence to a nation that was considered a U.S. protectorate before 1959.
“Fidel made Cubans feel proud of their country and always fought to preserve our independence from any foreign interference or meddling,” a private worker named Vicente Palacios told Xinhua.
“Regardless of any homage or celebration, I think the best way to remember him is to fulfill his concept of revolution and make the country continue to thrive,” said Daniela Estrain, a 19-year-old college student.
Concerts, photo exhibitions, sports and cultural activities were held over the past week throughout the island country to remember the late Cuban leader.
Many have also visited the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, where Castro’s remains rest. Since last December, about 500,000 people have visited this place.
Born on Aug. 13, 1926, Castro led the revolution that overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He built a socialist model that marked the history of the 20th century in Latin America and other developing countries.