Castro protesters take to streets in Spain
Spain’s King Felipe VI on Sunday paid tribute to Fidel Castro, describing him as “a figure of indisputable historic importance”, as supporters and opponents of the late Cuban leader took to the streets of Madrid.
In a telegram sent to Cuba’s current President Raul Castro – brother of the revolutionary who died yesterday aged 90 – the Spanish monarch expressed his condolences and noted his “family links with Spain”, Cuba’s colonial power until 1898. The brothers’ father was born in the northern Spanish village of Lancara. “The great closeness between Cuba and Spain means that everything that affects Cuba is felt very strongly here,” the king wrote.
In Madrid, police had to step in to separate rival groups protesting for and against Castro outside the Cuban embassy. Around a dozen demonstrators shouted “The tyrant is dead!” and clinked glasses to cheer the death of a man loathed by many for crushing his opponents but seen as a hero by supporters of the revolution for his fight against capitalist domination.
The anti-Castro protesters were booed by a much larger group of Spanish and Cuban demonstrators – many of them members of the Spanish communist party – cheering “Long live the revolution!” Rigoberto Carceller Ibarra, a Castro opponent from the group Cuba Democracia Ya (“Cuba Democracy Now”), accused the late leader of “stealing the revolution” and imposing a “hereditary monarchy”.
“All those who did not share his ideology or did not approve of him were punished or put in prison,” said the 53-year-old Cuban, who was booted out of the country after spending a-year-and-a-half in detention as a political prisoner.