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Fidel Castro’s remains embark on long trip to Santiago

The remains of Fidel Castro is to embark on his final journey on Wednesday, when the ashes of the late Cuban revolutionary leader will be transported 900 kilometres from Havana to Santiago de Cuba.

Castro’s ashes are to be buried in a funeral on Sunday in Santiago before an international cast of dignitaries including presidents Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.

Among the dignitaries are Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, all leftist allies of Cuba, as well as other Latin American leaders and Spain’s former king Juan Carlos.

The U.S. said it would not send an official delegation but that its acting ambassador Jeffrey de Laurentis and national security advisor Ben Rhodes would attend.

Santiago in eastern Cuba is known as the cradle of Cuban Communism and the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power.

Hundreds of thousands of people had the opportunity to pay their respects to the late Castro on Havana’s central Revolution Square.

Cuba’s historic leader died on Friday in Havana, aged 90, and was cremated in accordance with his wishes, while his ashes are to pass through several towns en route to Santiago.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for 47 years, until he stepped down for health reasons in 2006 and handed over power to his brother Raul.

He remained away from the public eye but was believed to be sceptical about the improvement in ties between Cuba and its arch-enemy, the U.S., which was launched in late 2014.

It remained uncertain whether improved relations would survive after Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president in January.

Report says the improvement has led among others to the restoration of direct postal, air and ship traffic among both nations.

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