Political News

Look at other state funerals following death of Fidel Castro

Posted November 27

A look at notable state funerals held for some other long-ruling leaders over the past century:

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MARSHAL JOSIP BROZ TITO, creator of post-World War II Yugoslavia. Died on May 4, 1980, just short of his 88th birthday, of complications following bypass surgery. More than 200 foreign dignitaries attended the May 9, 1980, funeral, including Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev and China's Communist Party Chairman Hua Guofeng, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Tito, who co-founded the Nonaligned Movement, opposed Castro's pro-Soviet line at a meeting of Nonaligned nations in Havana the year before, and Castro was notably absent at Tito's funeral. But Castro sent a message praising Tito for leaving a "deep impression on the life and history" of the developing world. More than 500,000 Yugoslavs lined the funeral route to Tito's private Belgrade residence, where he was buried in his rose garden.

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MAO ZEDONG, founder of the People's Republic of China. Died at age 83 on Sept. 11, 1976. "Mao Zedong has departed," an announcer said on state radio, the declaration repeated over and over between funeral music and the socialist theme "Internacionale." A weeklong period of mourning was marked by open weeping, but otherwise there was absolute calm — the only unusual occurrence being vendors selling black armbands and white flowers to mourners. There were no foreign guests at the funeral a week later.

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VLADIMIR ILICH LENIN, Soviet premier, driving force behind Russia's October 1917 Revolution. Died at age 53 on Jan. 21, 1924, of progressive brain paralysis following several strokes. His death was announced publicly the following evening. During Lenin's Jan. 28, 1924, funeral on Red Square in Moscow, bells tolled, guns thundered and bands played the "Internationale" in slow time, but no words were spoken as Lenin's body was laid in his tomb. Lenin's remains later underwent a four-month embalming process at a cost of $7,500 and remain on display, despite debate over whether they should be removed after the Soviet Union's collapse. Thousands of mourners thronged Red Square 29 years later when Lenin's successor, Josef Stalin, was buried next to him in the same mausoleum after dying at age 73 on March 5, 1953, of a cerebral hemorrhage following a stroke.

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GEN. FRANCISCO FRANCO, ruler of Spain for 39 years. Died on Nov. 20, 1975, at age 82 of heart failure aggravated by an abdominal infection. With flags flying at half-staff and the general's body lying in state at El Pardo Palace, Prince Juan Carlos was sworn in as king two days later. On Nov. 23, 1975, thousands joined the new king at Franco's funeral, which included Roman Catholic rites. Burial followed at the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum built on Franco's orders by Spanish Civil War prisoners. No western European nation, apart from Monaco, sent a head of state, but Franco supporters from Latin America attended, including Chile's Gen. Augusto Pinochet and Bolivia's President Hugo Banzer.

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