Cubans celebrated the death on Saturday of their friend, the former President, Raul Castro, who was shot dead by the United States in Cuba in 1961.

Raul was 79.

His family were also in attendance.

He was shot in the head as he was delivering an election speech to a small crowd in the square outside the Presidential Palace in Havana.

The Cuban leader, the country’s longest-serving leader, was found slumped over a table with his head in his hands in a nearby room.

Mr Castro, a political dissident who spent most of his life as a prisoner in Cuba’s jails, was shot several times and died of his wounds shortly afterwards.

His death comes just a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end US trade and travel with Cuba.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet to say goodbye to him, but also very happy to celebrate the end of this era,” Cuban President Raul Fernandez de Kirchner told a press conference in Havana, where he was attending a state funeral.

“His presence in our lives has given us strength, given us hope, given the people of Cuba the hope of a future of peace, security and prosperity.”

In a video message to his supporters, Mr Castro called Mr Trump a “dictator”, and said he would remain in office until the end.

“We want to say that in spite of all the obstacles and the difficulties that are facing us, we are still united, and that we will continue to do our best for our country and for humanity,” Mr Castro said.

“I thank you for your support.”

In the video, Mr Trump said he was “proud” to have “loved” Mr Castro and that he “did not deserve” to die in such a way.

Mr Trump also said that Cuba was “the best friend in the world” to the United Nations.

The US president said he had “deep respect” for Mr Castro but was disappointed by his death.

He also accused Cuba of “spreading the death sentence” of dissidents in Cuba and said that the Castro family “would be proud”.

The US has been trying to normalise relations with Cuba since the US and Cuba signed an historic accord in Havana in 1979, with Mr Trump saying he wanted to end the communist rule in Cuba.

The two nations remain technically at war and have been locked in a stand-off since the 1959 Cuban revolution that led to the overthrow of Fidel Castro.

Mr Fernandez de Kinder, the first lady of the island, said in a statement on Saturday that Mr Castro “was the friend of my life”.

“He loved me, and I am sure that I will never forget his warmth and his kind heart,” she said.

Mr Kinder was born in Cuba, where his family was granted political asylum, to a Catholic family in Miami.

His mother, Joanne Kinder of Miami, said she had a special bond with Mr Castro.

“He was a very good person.

I loved him very much,” she told the Miami Herald.

“When he died I will miss him.

He loved me.”

“We will always remember him as a leader of a Cuban revolution,” Mr Fernandez said in the statement.

The statement came hours after President Trump visited Havana, and spoke with Cuban President Raúl Castro.

He thanked Mr Castro for his friendship and called him a “strong leader”.

“We must not forget that this great leader and his family were among those who supported our country in the darkest days of the revolution,” Trump said.

In a separate statement, the US Treasury Department said it was reviewing sanctions against Cuba to address human rights abuses.

“The Cuban government has committed serious human rights violations in the past, including violations of fundamental freedoms and freedoms of the press, assembly, association, religion and association,” the statement said.