Maduro makes surprise visit to Havana as Cuba marks anniversary of Castro’s death

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made a surprise appearance Thursday in Havana at the inauguration of the Fidel Castro Ruz center, which retains the writings of the late president, five years after his death.

Maduro, who had not traveled to Cuba since December 2019, accompanied his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel during the ceremony, which was broadcast on state television. With them was Castro’s brother and former president Raul Castro.

The Fidel Castro Ruz center in the capital Havana is the first and only Cuban building to bear his name.

A law passed a month after his death in 2016 prohibits naming institutions, squares, parks, roads or other public places after the former president and leader of the Communist Party.

The erection of monuments, busts, statues or plaques in his name or image is also prohibited, in accordance with Castro’s wishes, although this has not prevented the proliferation of murals and placards honoring the late leader in the streets of Havana.

The only exceptions to the rule are for institutions created solely for “the study and dissemination of its thoughts and works”.

“It inspires me”

A national hero for most Cubans, but wicked to the West, Castro fell ill in 2006 and handed power over to his brother and revolutionary companion Raul.

Castro led the revolution that overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and is credited with creating Cuba’s social welfare system, which provides health care and education to all.

Cuban President Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Raul Castro in 2018, tweeted Thursday that Fidel Castro’s office at the seat of government, the Palace of the Revolution, “is as he left it in his last day there “.

“I try to imagine it in the midst of the hard fights of so many difficult years. It inspires me, it excites me. And I still fight,” said the president.

(AXADLETM with AFP)

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