Fidel Castro's ashes were being interred in a private ceremony Sunday morning after Cuban officials canceled plans to broadcast the events live on national and international television at the last minute. International media were also barred, reports the AP. The remains of the man who ruled Cuba for a half-century left the Plaza of the Revolution in the eastern city of Santiago at 6:39am, more than 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Thousands lined the two-mile route to Santa Ifigenia cemetery, waving Cuban flags and shouting "Long live Fidel!" The funeral caravan entered the cemetery at 7:12am. The Cuban military fired a 21-gun salute and crowds at the entrance sang the national anthem, then filled the road to the cemetery where the ashes were being interred inside, out of the public eye. The events ended a week of national mourning that reached near-religious peaks of adulation.
The decision to hold a private ceremony came after Castro's brother, President Raul Castro, announced that Cuba will prohibit the naming of streets and monuments after the former leader, and bar the construction of statues of the revolutionary icon. "The leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality and was consistent in that through the last hours of his life," Raul Castro told a massive crowd in Santiago. In contrast, the images of his fellow revolutionary fighters Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto "Che" Guevara became common across Cuba in the decades since their deaths. Mourning for Castro has been fervent and intense across the country since his death. "All of us would like to put Fidel's name on everything but in the end, Fidel is all of Cuba," said Juan Antonio Gonzalez, a 70-year-old retired economist. "It was a decision of Fidel's, not Raul's, and I think he has to be respected."