Cubans were expected to turn out en masse to Revolution Square in Havana Tuesday to pay their respects to Fidel Castro, the country's late president.
His brother, President Raúl Modesto Castro, announced Friday that the famous 90-year-old leader had died, triggering a nine-day mourning period that included Fidel Castro's cremation, a ban on public activities and a mandate that flags fly at half mast, the Havana Times reported. Castro's remains have been lying in state since Monday, giving people the chance to "pay tribute and sign a solemn oath to fulfill the concept of the Revolution, expressed by our historic leader on May 1st, 2000, as an expression of the resolve to continue his ideas and our socialism," according to a news release from the Organizing Committee of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, State and Government.
But one of the biggest events scheduled in Castro's memory was scheduled for Tuesday: a 7 p.m. EST rally at José Martí Revolution Square in Havana.
Castro, called "one of the more extraordinary political figures of the 20th century" by the Guardian, ruled Cuba for decades. In the late 1950s, he lead a revolution to overthrow then-dictator Fulgencio Batista and took control. He nationalized various industries, boosted the military and cut ties with the United States, and in doing so he both made fans and enemies of the Cuban people.
"The possible aspects of his legacy will likely be nationalism, a sense of Cuban identity — of 'cubanidad,'" Cuban politics expert Ann Louise Bardach told CNN. "But at a price far too steep that will leave a debt for generations to come."
After Tuesday's rally, Castro's casket will begin a 550-mile journey from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, proceeding along the route he took with his peers as a young rebel, according to the Havana Times. Another rally will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. local time at the Plaza de la Revolución Mayor General Antonio Maceo Grajales, and he will finally be buried Sunday at 7 a.m. in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.
Though figures like United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have said they won't attend Castro's funeral and exiled Latinos in South Florida have been celebrating his death, news reports from Havana indicated that scores of people were traveling to honor the late leader.
"He wasn't perfect. Nobody is," Roberto Videaux, 72, told Reuters. "Fidel was a teacher, a patriot."