Fidel Castro’s boots, binoculars, jeep on display in Cuba’s newest museum

HAVANA, Dec.1st.  (Reuters) A bust of Fidel Castro from China’s Xi Jinping, the army jeep in which he crossed Cuba, his well-worn boots and his Russian-made assault rifle are just a few of the long-time Cuban leader’s possessions on display at a new museum in his honour.

The “Centro Fidel Castro,” housed in an elegant mansion in Havana’s upscale Vedado district, opened its doors on the fifth anniversary of the death of the Cuban revolutionary. The communist-run government says it hopes the center will help spread Castro’s message to visitors, both local and foreign.

“One cannot tell the story of Fidel Castro’s life without telling the story of Cuba’s revolution,” said the centre’s Sissi Abay Diaz. “They are inseparable.”

Castro, a Cold War icon who built a communist state on a Caribbean island on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died at the age of 90 in November 2016.

The center showcases Castro’s legacy and ideas in several exhibition rooms, an amphitheatre, a bookstore, gardens as well as an extensive library, including books written by one-time island resident and novelist Ernest Hemingway.

Exhibits include photos together with Colombian author and close confidant Gabriel García Márquez, as well as Castro’s weapons, backpack and military cap that accompanied him from the Sierra Maestra mountains in eastern Cuba to the capital Havana during the 1959 revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Castro’s death closed a long and tumultuous chapter in Latin American history. The bearded leader was demonized by the United States and its allies for his repression of dissent at home and support of rebellion abroad, but admired by many leftists around the world, especially in Latin America and Africa.