Fidel Castro's ashes were buried alongside national heroes in the cradle of his revolution on Sunday, as Cuba opens a new era without the communist leader who ruled the island for decades.
Capping a week of tributes and mass rallies, Castro was laid to rest near the mausoleum of 19th century independence icon Jose Marti and comrades of his rebellion in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
A small group of guests attended the ceremony, which was closed to the public, after a jeep pulled the cedar urn into the Santa Ifigenia cemetery as thousands lined the streets, chanting "viva Fidel!"
Castro died on November 25 at age 90.
Vox Pop: Fidel #Castro in the eyes of Chinese people pic.twitter.com/gFETk11BEo — China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 4, 2016
His burial ends a nine-day period of mourning during which Cubans, often encouraged by the government, flooded the streets to pay tribute to Castro, chanting "I am Fidel!" as his ashes were taken across the Caribbean country.
Many held an all-night vigil at Santiago's Revolution Plaza, reading poems and holding pictures of Fidel Castro.
The government nurtured the religious-like fervour, with state media calling Castro the "eternal comandante."
NO streets & public sites will be named after Fidel Castro as per HIS wish. He said didn’t want a personality cult to develop around him pic.twitter.com/482suT1Kdl — Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) December 4, 2016
While US President Barack Obama has chipped away at the US embargo's trade and travel restrictions, foreign companies still face obstacles to invest in Cuba.
Food supplies are tight and public services are being cut back while socialist ally Venezuela, which has been providing cheap oil to Cuba, is in the middle of a political and economic crisis, said Ted Piccone, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution think tank.
Crowds line road into cemetery as funeral caravan for Fidel Castro enters in Santiago, Cuba. https://t.co/m8elpIw86G — The Associated Press (@AP) December 4, 2016