Cuba television shows urn containing Fidel Castro's ashes

Cubans are mourning the death of Fidel Castro, who ruled for half a century and resisted the United States throughout the Cold War.
A police officer passes by a large portrait of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the City Hall of the Guanabacoa municipality in Havana, on Nov 28, 2016.
A police officer passes by a large portrait of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro at the City Hall of the Guanabacoa municipality in Havana, on Nov 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

HAVANA (AFP) - The urn containing Mr Fidel Castro's ashes was shown on Cuban television for the first time late Monday (Nov 28) during a private ceremony led by his brother and successor, President Raul Castro.

The dark wood, rectangular box was placed inside a room at the armed forces ministry, where President Castro was flanked by military and civilian leaders, including Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

After announcing his brother's death on Friday, President Castro said the revolutionary icon's ashes would be cremated the next day, but the urn had never been seen until now.

The box was placed in front of a black-and-white picture of a younger Fidel Castro.

The officials placed a white flower before the ashes and signed an oath pledging their loyalty to Mr Castro's "concept of the revolution," like other Cubans across the island.

Throughout the day, hundreds of thousands of Cubans streamed past a picture of Mr Castro at a tribute inside the central monument of Revolution Square.

But to the surprise of many, the urn was not part of the display.

After two days of ceremonies in Havana, the urn will be taken in a "caravan of freedom" across the country, a four-day trip that will end in Santiago de Cuba, where the ashes will be laid to rest.