Residents wave as the caravan carrying the ashes of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro arrives in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Tens of thousands of Cubans packed into a public square in Santiago de Cuba on Saturday, joining dignitaries to bid farewell to revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in the city where his ashes will be entombed.

Cuba’s current President Raul Castro was set to commemorate the legacy of a his older brother, a man once feted by Nelson Mandela for helping to end apartheid, but who also helped take the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis.

The thundering comandante, who built a Soviet-sponsored Communist state 90 miles from the United States and survived a half century of US attempts to topple or kill him, died on November 25 at 90 years old.

On Sunday morning, his ashes will be interred near the remains of Cuba’s independence hero Jose Marti in a cemetery in the eastern city, in what is likely to be a solemn ceremony.

Drawn in a trailer behind an olive green army jeep, Castro’s ashes have made a 600-mile journey in which hundreds of thousands of Cubans, many chanting “I am Fidel!,” have lined up on roadsides and gathered in plazas for a final tribute.

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