MIAMI -- About the size of Pennsylvania and with a population of more than 11 million, Cuba is just 90 miles from Florida -- but seemingly, a world away.
Banging pots, pans and drums, they celebrated like it was a family reunion. The most-hated member of the family was gone.
“Satan, Fidel is now yours,” read one man’s sign. “Give him what he deserves. Don’t let him rest in peace.”
For some, in celebration there was guilt.
“I know we’re not supposed to be celebrating death, but to us, this is closure,” one woman said.
Another woman, Margarita Aguilar, 61, came to U.S. when she was 4, and on Saturday she waved the treasured Cuban flag her grandfather left her.
“I’m waving it for my grandfather and my father who both passed away and didn’t get to see this day,” Aguilar said.
“Fifty-eight years later, Castro dies on Black Friday, which is essentially the most emblematic day for capitalism in the Western world,” said ophthalmologist Dr. Oscar Minoso. “It’s really ironic that that would be the case.”
Minoso was born in Spain. His parents fled Cuba before he was born.
Oscar and Maria Minoso are still alive.
On Saturday morning, there was an emotional phone call.
“They feel that this is one of the few victories that they’ve had in their life is to say that they lasted longer than Castro,” Minoso said about his parents.
Minoso refuses to visit Cuba until the last of the Castro brothers is gone.
But there is a generational divide. Younger Cuban-Americans like Daniel Guaty are anxiously planning a trip to the island.
“For me it’s to get a better understanding of where my family came from, the struggles that they went through in order for me to have the life that I live now,” Guaty said.
Late Saturday, the crowd in Little Havana was growing. It was similar to a street party. People were celebratory but peaceful.
It’s worth noting the death of Fidel Castro had been falsely reported many times over the years. It had become something of a running joke, so on Friday night when the news was announced a lot of people didn’t believe it.