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Cuba: Crowds pay last respects to Fidel Castro in Santiago

media captionThousands gathered in in Revolution Square in Santiago for a final rally

Cuban President Raul Castro has led final tributes to his brother Fidel at an event in the city of Santiago.

Tens of thousands of Cubans attended the ceremony, as well as world leaders.

Raul Castro vowed to honour the socialist principles and goals of the revolution led by Fidel, who died on 25 November aged 90.

He also announced that Cuba would ban naming any monuments or roads after Fidel Castro, at the request of the late leader.

"The leader of the revolution strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of personality," said Raul Castro.

No statues or busts of Fidel will be erected in Cuba, he said.

media captionCubans say goodbye to their revolutionary leader Fidel Castro

The urn with his ashes will be interred on Sunday in Santiago, known as the birthplace as the Cuban Revolution.

It arrived on Saturday in Santiago, after a four-day journey from the capital, Havana.

Large crowds shouting 'Long live Fidel!" and "I am Fidel!" greeted his funeral cortege through the streets of Santiago.

'A father to us'

The leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have attended the ceremony.

image copyrightReuters
image captionRaul Castro (right) welcomed ex-Brazilian Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the ceremony
image copyrightEPA
image captionFidel Castro stepped down in 2006
image copyrightAP
image caption"I am Fidel," chanted many Cubans as the funeral cortege went through the streets of Santiago
image copyrightAFP
image captionFidel Castro's ashes will be interred in Santiago on Sunday

"All of us who love Fidel, who is a father to us. He cleared a path for us and the people will follow him," Tania Maria Jimenez told Reuters.

She was among thousands of Cubans watching as the urn with Mr Castro's ashes was driven past the historic Moncada barracks in Santiago.

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Fidel Castro was part of the small group of revolutionaries who launched an attack on the barracks on 26 July 1953.

The attacked failed, but it was considered the first act of the revolution that would depose the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959.

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.

Raul Castro took over when his brother's health deteriorated in 2006.

Fidel Castro's ashes will be placed in the Ifigenia Cemetery, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.

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