HAVANA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Cuba started here Tuesday night a massive rally and a state funeral in homage to late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who passed away late Friday at the age of 90.
Heads of state and delegations from 55 countries joined thousands of Cubans gathering at the Revolution Plaza, the main tribune of the deceased former president during his 47-year leading of the island's socialist revolution.
Among the international participants is Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, who arrived in Havana as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to express his deepest condolences over the death of Castro.
Presidents from regional countries include Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, and other main leftist leaders in Latin America and Cuba's political allies in the region.
"We are here to pay tribute to a great giant, here is Venezuela, here is the Bolivarian Revolution to tell them we are still standing, we are still together, today more than ever with Fidel," said Maduro after his arrival in Havana.
Other world leaders and officials participating in the funeral are Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, South Africa's Jacob Zuma, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras among others, together with Jose Mujica, former Uruguayan president and close friend of Castro and Juan Carlos I de Borbon, former King of Spain.
On Wednesday, Castro's ashes will begin a three-day procession eastward 1,000 km on Cuban soil, repeating the march of his triumphant Rebel Army from the Sierra Maestra mountains to the capital.
The burial ceremony for Castro is scheduled for Sunday at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, the country's second-largest city, for a final rest along with other heroes of Cuban history, such as the founding fathers of the independence against Spain Jose Marti and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.