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Miami and Havana reacted differently to the death of Fidel Castro

This segment originally aired Nov. 28, 2016 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Some hail former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90, as a revolutionary hero while others abhor him as a despot.

Responses to his death reflect just how controversial a figure he was; those who viewed him as an icon for his anti-Washington defiance and embrace of Soviet-style communism, including universal health care, mourned his passing, while those who resented his dictatorial rule celebrated the news.


Hundreds of Cuban-Americans took to the streets of Miami, Florida’s Little Havana neighborhood, shown below, on Saturday to celebrate the death of Castro. The evening rain did not discourage the revelers, who waved the Cuban national flag, banged pots and pans, danced, and shouted “Cuba Libre” into the early hours of Sunday.

Many of the residents of Little Havana — about five miles west of downtown Miami — are exiles, or descended from exiles, of their home country, having fled Cuba after Castro took power in 1959. A few residents carried the sign below in the streets after the announcement.

The mood in Havana, Cuba, meanwhile, where a nine-day period of mourning was declared, was more somber. The photo below shows students attending a vigil outside the law school at the University of Havana, which Castro attended.

Below, a couple of residents stand in a window of their house next to an image of the late Castro and a Cuban Flag in Havana.

News of Castro’s death trickled out slowly Friday night. Some Havana bars closed without explanation, and rumors soon spread that a “momentous announcement” was coming, according to the Guardian. Many locals relied on tourists in the city with internet access to tell them that their former leader had died.