Cuban President Raul Castro lays flowers at the mausoleum of poet and independence hero Jose Marti on the 56th anniversary of the revolution. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Cuban President Raul Castro paid homage to Cuba's independence hero Jose Marti by placing a flower wreath at his mausoleum in Santiago de Cuba on Thursday (January 1) as Cuba celebrates the 56th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. This year's celebrations, however, were taking place against the backdrop of the historic resumption of diplomatic ties of Cuba - U.S. relations announced on December 17. Cuban flags waved at the mausoleum, two weeks after the United States and Cuba announced that diplomatic ties with Washington severed more than 50 years ago would be restored. Castro also laid a wreath for independence war veterans, the fallen on the attack to the Moncada barracks and international fighters. He also laid flowers at the tomb of his wife, Vilma Espin, one of the most powerful women in Cuba's political leadership, who died in 2007 in Havana at the age of 77, and on the niche of famed Spanish Flamenco dancer and choreographer Antonio Gades and Castro's parents. After 18 months of secret talks, U.S. President Barack Obama and Castro agreed on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other's countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce. Just weeks after the announcement, Havana detained leading dissidents overnight to thwart an unauthorized demonstration. Police arrested several political opponents on Tuesday (December 30) and kept others under virtual house arrest ahead of an open microphone protest that was to have taken place outside the communist government headquarters in Havana's Revolution Square. Some dissidents have already been freed but at least one was re-arrested. The detentions were typical of how Cuba breaks up opposition protests but took on greater significance coming just two weeks after the announcement intending to end decades of hostility.