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Museum dedicated to Fidel Castro opens in Havana as homage to former Cuban leader

People look at a video display of Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro at the museum Centre Fidel Castro. Reuters/Natalia Favre

The Centro Fidel Castro museum is housed in an elegant mansion in Havana’s upscale Vedado district and opened its doors on the fifth anniversary of the death of the Cuban revolutionary.

It showcases Castro’s legacy and ideas in several exhibition rooms, an amphitheatre, a bookstore, gardens as well as an extensive library, including books written by one-time island resident and novelist Ernest Hemingway.

The communist-run government says it hopes the centre will help spread Castro’s message to visitors, both local and foreign to cement his revolutionary legacy.

It opens at a time when Cuban authorities have quelled protests in 2021 demanding democracy and more freedom of expression.

Cold War icon

As a Cold War icon who built a communist state on a Caribbean island on the doorstep of the US, he successfully defied his larger and more powerful neighbours’  efforts to topple him for five decades before dying at the age of 90 in November 2016.

Castro’s death therefore closed a long and tumultuous chapter in Latin American history: demonised by the US and its allies for his repression of dissent at home and support of rebellion abroad but admired by many leftists around the world, especially in Latin America and Africa.

Cuba’s revolution

A woman walks past images of Cuba’s late leader Fidel Castro at the museum Centre Fidel Castro. Reuters/Natalia Favre

“One cannot tell the story of Fidel Castro’s life without telling the story of Cuba’s revolution,” said the centre’s Sissi Abay Diaz. “They are inseparable.”

On display at the new museum is a bust of Fidel Castro from China’s Xi Jinping, the army jeep in which he crossed Cuba, his well-worn boots and his Russian-made assault rifle.

Other exhibits include photos together with Colombian author and close confidant Gabriel García Márquez, as well as Castro’s weapons, backpack and military cap that accompanied him from the Sierra Maestra mountains in eastern Cuba to the capital Havana during the 1959 revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Report by Reuters TV and Nelson Acosta.

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