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MIAMI HERALD | VIDEO NEWS ARTICLE | RALLY FOR CHANGE

30 Nov 2016 9:47 AM | Silvia G. (Administrator)


November 30, 2016 07:34 PM

Updated November 30, 2016 11:06 PM


Around 4:30 p.m., the crowd began to swell and fill the street between 12th and 13th avenues as the party atmosphere took hold. Before speakers took the stage, Willy Chirino’s “Nuestro Dia” blasted from loudspeakers and sent the crowd into sing-along.

The rally capped days of cathartic celebration since Castro’s death late Friday. Organized by 2506 Assault Brigade as an event to unite exiles, the event began with a moment of silence to honor those who fell in the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, and the many dissidents who have been killed and imprisoned under Castro’s rule.

Among those is Eduardo Lambert, 76, a veteran who survived the invasion and was briefly captured before returning to the U.S. Like so many, he was awakened at midnight Friday by a phone call from a friend with the news.

“We weren’t able to do it by force in the Bay of Pigs,” he said Wednesday, sitting in front of the monument honoring him and his fellow exiles. “But time took him away.”

Lambert, an economist, was hopeful Castro’s death might signal a new era for Cuba.

Lambert’s attitude echoed throughout Wednesday’s event, which was equal parts victory party and political rally. It marked a stark contrast to the somber atmosphere in Cuba, where a funeral procession carrying Castro’s remains criscrossed the country, with tens of thousands lining the streets to pay their respects to their former leader.

In Miami, a series of speakers roused the crowd with indictments of Castro’s legacy and President Barack Obama’s policy to re-establish relations with the Cuban government. Tinges of U.S. politics colored the crowd as some people yelled "Viva Trump," donned "Make American Great Again" hats and hoisted campaign signs in support of President-elect Donald Trump.

A saxophone player led the crowd in a rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" followed by the Cuban national anthem, “La Bayamesa.’’

"Fidel Castro is no hero," said Sylvia Iriondo, president of MAR (Mothers and Women against Repression) por Cuba, in an address to the crowd. "He was the most ruthless dictator in the hemisphere."

Naisofi Pieonn, a 27-year-resident of Miami, pushed a cart full of flags and Cuban bread through the morass. She said she had a reason to smile today and the days to come because of the death of Castro.

"It's very difficult in Cuba," she said in Spanish. "I'm happy and my family is happy he is dead."


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