The Latest: Cubans line up to sign oath to revolution

HAVANA (AP) " The Latest on the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The White House says neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden will attend a memorial service for Fidel Castro.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday ruled out the leaders' attendance at services for the former Cuban president.

Earnest said an announcement on whether or not the U.S. would send a delegation would come soon.

Cubans are planning a week of memorial services for Castro. A rally honoring the late leader is planned in Havana on Tuesday.

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2:15 p.m.

Schoolchildren and local residents are lining up one by one in Cuba to sign an oath pledging loyalty to the Cuban revolution's ideals, using words borrowed from a 2000 speech by Fidel Castro.

There were more than 1,000 signatures in the two books emblazoned with a photo of Castro by late morning at one school alone: the Jose Antonio Mella school in Ciudad Escolar Libertad, on the western outskirts of Havana, .

Across the street in a community center, people filed past a portrait of Castro to pay their respects. It's a smaller version of what's happening at the Plaza of the Revolution and one that being repeated in countless places around the country.

Seventy-year-old retiree Jose Menendez Marquez struggled to keep his chin high as tears rolled down his cheeks.

In his words, "There is no one else in the world like Fidel."

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9:45 a.m.

The first regularly scheduled commercial flight in more than 50 years from the United States to Havana has landed.

Passengers aboard the American Airlines flight arriving at 8:25 a.m. Monday cheered as the plane touched ground at Jose Marti International Airport.

The flight's arrival comes as Cubans began week-long memorial services paying homage to revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

American Airlines held a small celebration before the flight departed from Miami and gave passengers straw hats that said "Cuba" on the back.

Forty-five-year-old passenger Tamara Cara says the flight's landing was emotional for many.

U.S. flights to other cities in Cuba began earlier.

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9:30 a.m.

Cuban soldiers have fired off 21-gun salutes to mark the start of services paying tribute to Fidel Castro.

Uniformed troops fired artillery pieces at 9 a.m. from the Morro fort in Havana and from a fort in the eastern city of Santiago.

The salutes mark the opening of a tribute in Havana, where tens of thousands of Cubans are filing through three rooms in the capital's memorial to national hero Jose Marti where posters of Castro as a young guerrilla stand alongside flowers and soldiers.

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8:30 a.m.

Thousands of Cubans are lining up early near Havana's Plaza of the Revolution for the start of week-long services bidding farewell to the man who ruled the country for nearly half a century.

Memorial services are slated to begin Monday at 9 a.m. when simultaneous 21-gun salutes will sound in the capital and in the eastern city of Santiago, where Castro launched his revolution in 1953.

At the same time, Cubans will begin filing through the monument to the national hero Jose Marti in the center of the plaza, where the government has said they will sign an oath to carry out the "concept of revolution."

Many of the Cubans lining up early to pay homage to Fidel in Havana are workers at state businesses.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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