A mass rally honouring the late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday aged 90, has filled Revolution Square in Havana. The gathering began with the national anthem and ended with a tribute from Castro's brother Raul. It was attended by a number of world leaders.
In 1992 I spent just over a month travelling and photographing in Cuba. The work was titled “Tenacious Roots” and documents the social and economic changes that were occurring in Cuba just after the Soviet Union withdrew its support. The biggest impact came from the loss of cheap petroleum from Russia. Gasoline quickly became unobtainable by ordinary citizens in Cuba, and mechanized agriculture and food distribution systems all but collapsed. The island's woes were compounded by the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which intensified the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, preventing pharmaceuticals, manufactured goods, and food imports from entering the country. During this so-called "special period" (from 1991 to 1995), Cuba teetered on the brink of famine. Tourism was being introduced but only in a “sanitised” form where there were different hotels, restaurants and shops for the Cubans.
Castro orchestrated the Cuban Revolution and was the head of Cuba's government until 2008. Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.
Supporters say he returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programmes, such as public health and education. But critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.
On Wednesday Castro's ashes will be taken on a journey to Santiago, which is regarded as the Cuba's 1959 revolution. The ashes will be placed on Sunday in the Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.