Cuba’s President Raul Castro has led tens of thousands of people through Havana in the traditional ‘March of the Torches,’ marking 164th anniversary of national independence hero Jose Marti.
This year’s rally on Friday, however, was further dedicated to the Latin American country’s late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who is also viewed as father of Cuba’s revolution against a US-backed dictator in the 1950’s.
More than 30,000 people converged on the steps of Havana University to honor Jose Marti and pay respects to Fidel Castro, before moving on to rally through major streets of the capital while carrying pictures of the country’s late leader who remains highly revered across the nation.
Marti became a symbol for Cuba through his writings and political activity against the threat of Spanish and US expansionism into Cuba in the late 19th Century.
He is known to have dedicated his life to promoting national liberty, political independence for Cuba, as well as intellectual independence for the rest of Latin American people.
The first ‘March of the Torches’ in Cuba took place on January 27, 1953, during which thousands of students — led by Fidel Castro — protested against the country’s US-sponsored regime of Fulgencio Batista on the 100th anniversary of Jose Marti’s birth.
Six years after that march, Castro would lead the national uprising to oust Batista’s dictatorship and begin the Cuban revolution.
After Fidel Castro rose to power in the small island nation, his government recognized Marti as a crucial inspiration for Cuba’s revolution and the new administration.