"I was in the areas of the Obelisk to the Martyrs of Pino III, camping with the youth of the 60th Anniversary of the landing of the Granma and FAR Day Youth Route, just 60 years after leaving Mexico, when I learned of the death of Fidel. We all hugged each other and there were tears, but there was a Viva Fidel! as well. At that moment and for the rest of our lives, we will feel part of the history of the country," recalls Susel Luis Isalguez, a 20-year-old Camagüey girl.
She grew up in Camagüey listening to anecdotes where the Commander was a protagonist. "I grew up in a fighting environment, that's why his figure makes us all proud, even after not being here physically," she says.
Susel, a third year student of the Licenciatura degree in Tourism at the Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz University of Camagüey, confesses that Fidel "is the father of all Cubans, just like Cespedes, because he never betrayed his only ambition: infinite love of the people."
"I could say much more," she insists," but my words fail to thank him for thinking of the woman. He grew above his peers in the way he saw the Cuban woman, who gave her equal rights and duties, and full participation in the new society that emerged.
"He masterfully understood that in the emancipation of women there was also the justice of the Revolution. Just thinking about us, we have to admire and respect him forever, "she says.
Fidel always thought of the young people, that's why they returned that love to him. Across the country, and others like Susel, grew up with the sole magisterium of the Commander-in-Chief, shared with JR the feeling of a loss that drives them to do more for Cuba.
Harold Díaz Pedraza, a 36-year-old troubadour from Camagüey, looks at his watch and comments, "I have got up together with my guitar, my son and the shared pain of friends and family.
"Fidel is not only the one who traced the way of his people, but also, intelligence and determination that collapses colossal walls. In him he gives a charm, converges qualities that are inspiration for the artists of now and will be for those who are yet to be discovered. He is the greatest artist to create and dream a giant work: the future of a free homeland, "he reaffirms.
Pedraza does not speak of Fidel in past tense, but in present tense. "Fidel carries innate the talent of determination, that of risk without fear of setbacks, that of the call to fight," he adds.
"So I'm sorry," says the guitarist, and with his little Harland he sings to Fidel. "He, he said, is the Cuban anthem for the battle."
Even the "handsome" cry
Whoever knows Nosvis Abreus Martínez cannot imagine this burly cousin, 26, crying. Not that he is insensitive, but his physiognomy goes more with a rude, handsome boy, able to withstand any tears.
But Nosvis is not ashamed to confess how when he learned of Fidel's death the next morning, tears came to him. At first he had a hard time believing what the television special magazine reported, but then he knew it was true.
"I was moved, I admired him since I was a kid, he was a great person," he tells me as he talks to a friend about the figure of the Commander in Chief.
This young accountant ensures that there will be no shortage of activities to be performed to pay posthumous homage to the highest leader of the Cuban Revolution.
"There I will be, I cannot miss them. Fidel was a great person, who gave us a tremendous example, which is why we must remember him. "
Would you like to be like him in any way? I ask. "I know it is too general, but I could tell you that in his personality, that way of helping others, to fight for our country. I liked that phrase that he repeated: "Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stones," and he was right.
Because he thought of the young
"Today is a sad day. Fidel gave many possibilities to the people, especially black and humble girls like me, "says Yuarlenis Calderón, a young girl of 29 years and a law degree.
"If it had not been for him and the Revolution, because of my skin colour and being a woman, I would not have been able to study this career for free. That will always be appreciated.
"Fidel saw in the young the future of the country. Therefore, my commitment is to follow his footsteps, his ideas, and fight to maintain what he and the entire historic generation achieved for us with sacrifice," she says.
Rafael García, a young industrial engineer working at ETECSA, also on Isla de la Juventud, still does not accept the news. It is impossible to believe that the man to whom Cuba and the world owes so much humanism and solidarity is no longer physically among us, although he knows that his ideas, examples and virtues will accompany us for life.
"From pain and gratitude I say:" I am Fidel." Following in his footsteps is my commitment. For him I am a revolutionary and militant of the UJC. Thanks to Fidel and the Revolution, I became an industrial engineer. From my trench I will always give the best to maintain and defend the legacy that he leaves us. He is an example of a human and a revolutionary and his ideas will live forever, "he says.
An exemplary master of ideas
Linked in various ways to the work of youth organizations in the country during the last 20 years of his life, Alber Cambar Cabrera from Holguin finds it difficult to speak in the past tense of Fidel's legacy to the young people because, knowing the sad news, it seems to him a subject rooted in the daily action of the leader of the Revolution.
"The first thing Fidel gave us was his preaching with a personal example. I think then that his legacy impels us to continue his dreams of justice and to work hard to conquer a better world.
"The first time I saw Fidel I was a student, in a patriotic activity in homage to Martí, in Dos Ríos. I was a few feet away from him, I heard him speak like a father. My dream was to greet him, to hug him, but I never succeeded.
"The Commander was always very special, I always remember him jovial, smiling, asking questions. Inculcating the love for study, the overcoming, investigation, for the industriousness.
"For me, the main duty of young people is to defend all the good and humane that has been achieved in our country and in other parts of the world for the welfare of people, their rights, so that it can be maintained against those who still hate and destroy.
"The defence of the Revolution is fought in the field of ideas, and in that we Cubans have an exemplary master like Fidel."
A great dreamer who never gave up
For Dennys Pérez Acanda, president of the AHS in Pinar del Rio, "Fidel is the great artist of the twentieth century for the work that is the Cuban Revolution. He is an example for everyone, especially for the most suffering countries, those who feel the weight of those above.
"Fidel placed Cuba in the world, made her feel. And that is the legacy that we as artists have to defend, always from a critical, rebellious work.
"I also see him as the great dreamer who never gave up his purpose, his independence, to help all who needed it without any kind of self-interest. He strove to unify the peoples of America for a just cause.
"Now that he's gone the first thing we must feel is respect for the great work of the Revolution and to maintain what has been achieved. He always trusted young people a lot; the Revolution made him a young man. It is up to us to defend history from all points of view; we cannot lose history because we would lose ourselves. "
"Fidel will not turn it off," says Ludey Liudys Izquierdo Carballo, president of the Martiano Youth Movement in that province: "The death of Fidel has been a very hard blow for all young Cubans, even for those who are not and feel friends of Cuba.
"I always think of the confidence he had in the new generations, the tasks he gave them, the programs he carried out with the battle of ideas or with the liberation of Elian, and all that was led by the young people.
"One thinks that everything we do to remember him will be little, to live up to his figure, to honor him. I think we will never be able to resign ourselves and become accustomed to that loss.
«Fidel is Cuba. He leaves us with all the ideals, his work, the social projects, the idiosyncrasy of the Cubans who in a certain way are influenced by his thinking. We are Fidel. "
I came to play baseball in his honour
"He always said that young people had to prepare because we are not only the present, but the future of the country. He expressed it in his speeches, but he also practiced it. Always among those of his team were young people, as a sign of the confidence he had in the younger generations. He was an example in everything. "
Yunier Mora Hechavarría, young INDER professor from Guantánamo, seems to be tightening his chest. He says he is very sorry about the death of the Commander-in-Chief. That after hearing the news had not left the house and that in his neighbourhood people are quiet and sad, as he had never seen in his life.
He has cried, but in truth he should not cry for Fidel, because he will never be dead. "We must honour his departure by being faithful to the work he left us. Defend the conquests for which he committed his life in sacrifice," he explains.
"Today I came to play baseball in his honour, because Fidel liked it and was a great inspirer of Cuban baseball and sport in general. When I entered the ball field they did not want to let me bat because they said I was a bit shabby, but I started for home base and hit a tremendous shot over the fence, but neither this nor any of them will ever be bigger than the one Commander made when he founded this Revolution and now, without him physically, we have to make it better."
Translated by ESTI