EFEMadrid

Groups of Fidel Castro supporters and opponents faced off outside the Cuban embassy in Madrid on Saturday following the death of the revolutionary leader at the age of 90.

Police officers were forced to intervene on several occasions to prevent the escalation of altercations between supporters of the Cuban government and Cuban expatriates opposed to the Castro regime.

Insults were exchanged between members of each group during the rally that took place amid heavy rain in the Spanish capital.

The Cuban national flag above the embassy was flying at half-mast as journalist flooded to the venue in the hope of gathering testimonies.

Police officers seized several bottles of champagne from the president of the "Cuba Democracy Now" group, Rigoberto Carceller, who in turn said the beverages were not to celebrate Castro's death, but rather to usher in a new era of Cuban politics.

"Cuba! Fidel! Che!" and "long live the revolution" were some of the other chants audible during the rally.

While some have praised the social progress in education and healthcare under the Castro regime, other people speaking to EFE on the scene criticized it as a "dictatorship".

Castro died late on Friday Nov. 25, at the age of 90. The news was announced in an address on state television shortly thereafter by the leader's brother and current president, Raúl Castro.

so-bal/jlg/fp