Cuba inaugurates center to preserve Castro writings

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A law banning the use of Fidel Castro's image has not stopped the proliferation of posters and murals in his memory (AFP/YAMIL LAGE)
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Cuba on Thursday inaugurated a center to preserve the writings of its revolutionary hero Fidel Castro as part of commemorations marking the fifth anniversary of his death.

The Fidel Castro Ruz center in the capital Havana is the first and only Cuban building to carry his name.

A law passed a month after his death in 2016 bans the naming of institutions, squares, parks, roads or other public places after the former president and Communist Party leader.

Also banned, following Castro's wishes, is the erection of monuments, busts, statues or plaques in his name or image -- though this has not prevented the proliferation of murals and placards in honor of the late leader on the streets of Havana.

The only exceptions to the rule are made for institutions created solely for "the study and dissemination of his thinkings and work."

A national hero for most Cubans, but a villain to the West, Castro fell ill in 2006 and handed power to his brother and fellow revolutionary fighter Raul.

Castro led the revolution that ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and is credited with creating Cuba's social welfare system, which provides healthcare and education for all.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who took over from Raul Castro in 2018, tweeted on Thursday that Fidel Castro's office at the seat of government, the Palace of the Revolution, "is as he left it on his last day there."

"I try to imagine him in the midst of the hard battles of so many challenging years. It inspires me, it excites me. And I'm still fighting," the president said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made a surprise visit to Havana Thursday for the center's inauguration, his first trip to Cuba since December 2019.

Maduro accompanied Diaz-Canel and Raul Castro at the ceremony, which was broadcast by state television and featured a play by a children's theater. No speeches were made during the inauguration.

Earlier Thursday, Maduro had praised Castro on Twitter as "a transcendental and unbreakable hero who knew how to guide the Cuban people in the midst of difficulties."

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