Cuban-Americans flooded the streets of Miami’s Little Havana late Friday into Saturday, celebrating the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
People honked horns, banged pans, waved Cuban flags and set off fireworks, the Miami Herald reported. In cheers and songs, they denounced Castro and Cuban President Raul Castro, who announced his brother’s death late Friday.
“This is the moment that so many in our community have been waiting for since I can remember, since I was a child,” Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican whose parents fled Cuba, told the Herald. “Everyone’s been waiting for this moment because they believed it would be the beginning of the end of the nightmare, and I think that’s exactly what this is: the opening of a door to a brighter future.”
While many world leaders mourned Castro’s death, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, issued a firm rebuke of the former leader and his legacy.
“Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not,” Rubio said in a statement Saturday. “And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people.”
Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami-Dade County, asked residents to demonstrate peacefully.
“His passing closes a very painful chapter for Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans throughout the world, including for thousands of Mami-Dade county residents who were personally affected by his cruel and brutal dictatorship,” Gimenez said in a statement. “Despite this historic moment however, we know that Fidel’s brother Raul continues to lead one of the world’s most repressive governments. My hope is that a free and democratic Cuba with the same freedoms we treasure here in the United States will soon emerge. It is what the Cuban people deserve.”