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Life after Fidel

YOU have to search long and hard to find any statues of Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Unlike just about anywhere else you care to mention, consumer advertising was replaced by stirring revolutionary imagery, snappy slogans and useful cultural announcements decades ago.

There is no shortage of statues and images of Castro’s revolutionary compatriot Che Guevara. The iconic stencil-style image based on Alberto Korda’s photograph of Che is everywhere. From murals and T-shirts to tattoos and three-peso notes in Cuban pockets, Che’s black beret, flowing locks and smouldering eyes are never far away.

IMG_3628Cuban kids start the school day by pledging that they “will be like Che”. There’s even a song about Guevara, Hasta Siempre, Commandante that, inevitably, you’ll hear sooner or later.

Similarly, every street corner seems to have statues and memorials to José Martí, the poet and writer who gave a voice to the earliest notions of Cuban independence in the 19th century.

You’ll sometimes see Fidel, wearing his trademark beard and peaked military cap, alongside Che and fellow revolutionary hero Camilo Cienfuegos, on colourful and appropriately heroic murals throughout the island.

Occasionally, there are inspiring quotes from Fidel on roadside hoardings (although many have him eulogising his martyred comrade-in-arms Che). But there’s not a single road named after Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz anywhere in Cuba.

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