DOZENS of somber local residents visited the Consulate General of Cuba in Shanghai yesterday to pay their respects to late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who passed away on November 25.
According to consulate officials, approximately 180 mourners have flocked to the consulate in remembrance of Castro, who is affectionately nicknamed “lao ka,” or “Old Castro.”
The consulate has converted a room into a tribute site, where members of the public paid homage to the deceased Cuban leader by either signing the condolence book or pledging loyalty to his socialist cause. The public mourning period runs through noon tomorrow.
One of the many visitors was Xu Ming, a professor teaching at Shanghai-based Donghua University. During an emotionally charged visit to the consulate yesterday, Xu, 63, waxed nostalgic as he crooned a popular old song about the camaraderie between China and Cuba in the 1960s.
Like many of his generation, Xu grew up listening to those songs and reading about the exploits of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in textbooks and newspapers.
“With utmost sadness I learned of Mr Castro’s death in the newspapers,” Xu said as he signed the condolence book.
While the funeral cortege is carrying Castro’s remains on a four-day journey to their final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, where it all began for the 1959 revolution that catapulted him to power, Castro and his legacies are also being remembered in Shanghai, which he visited in 1995 and 2003.
“His death is not just a loss to the Cuban people, but to Chinese people and the whole world as well,” said Xu.
Castro is widely revered among Chinese as an icon who inspired generation after generation of youths with his romantic revolutionary ideals and struggles against imperialism.
“He is uniquely responsible for leading Cuba away from the US sphere of influence,” he said.
This isn’t easy considering the decades of economic hardship caused by the US blockade, which eased a little but hasn’t been entirely lifted, he told Shanghai Daily.
Standing in a room full of wreathes and elegiac couplets sent by local officials, citizens and Cuban expats in Shanghai and adjoining provinces, Xu said Cuba has demonstrated that a sovereign country can adhere to its own political system in spite of all the hostility from a formidable adversary.
“Although Fidel is physically gone, his ideas will be with us forever, and he will stay in our hearts forever because of what he did for the people and for the motherland,” said Lisbet Quesada Luna, Consul General of Cuba in Shanghai. “He devoted his deepest love to the motherland.”