A replica of a New York statue of a Cuban national hero makes it to Havana

Posted: 10-Oct-17 09:06

The replica of a statue of the most widely recognised hero of the Cuban Independence Wars - writer, poet, journalist, philosopher, professor, political theorist and fighter (the list could actually go on and on), Jose Martí, made it to Havana last week from New York. It was a gift sent by the Bronx Museum of Arts so that the Cuban capital could have a faithful copy of the statue in Central Park, sculpted by Anna Hyatt.

A replica of a New York statue of a Cuban national hero makes it to Havana

There is one park in Havana that´s being spruced up as part of an embellishment project that will have a life-size sculpture as its main centrepiece and such a magnificent work of art has already arrived in the city. I´m talking about Old Havana´s “13 de marzo” park and the replica of a statue that has stood at the Avenue of the Americas in New York´s Central Park for the last 67 years. It´s a statue of Cuban national hero, Jose Marti, sculpted by American artist Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1950 and depicting the final moments in the freedom fighter´s life as he was fatally shot astride his horse in the battle of Dos Rios.

The highly-detailed and life-like original statue was a gift from the Cuban government to the U.S. as a symbol of friendship between both nations at the turn of the last century. Weighing three tonnes with a height of 5.6 metres, it was the last great equestrian statue to be sculpted by Anna Hyatt and it stands alongside other monuments of Latin American heroes like Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, on a small square in Central Park´s southern area.

According to Havana´s Historian of the City, Eusebio Leal, the statue is the only one in the world that depicts Marti in his dying moments on a fateful 19th May in 1895, when several bullets struck him the battle of Dos Rios.

The identical bronze replica that made it to Havana las Tuesday was sculpted in Philadelphia thanks to an initiative pushed forward by the Bronx Museum of Arts which collected 2.5 million dollars in funds to make the Friends of the Project for the Jose Marti Sculpture a reality.

After its long journey, the statue will be placed at the heart of the 13 de marzo park in Old Havana, in a centric, circular area where it will be surrounded by gardens and lifted on a 5.3-metre pedestal. According to sources from the Office of the Historian of the City, a group from Cuban state-owned company, Restaura, worked under the tutelage of the Bronx Museum to put the finishing touches to the pedestal, which will be coated in black granite to closely resemble the original in New York.

On its base, the following inscription will be added:

“Del pueblo de Estados Unidos al pueblo de Cuba / From the people of the United States to the people of Cuba.”

The plaque’s words are to be interpreted in the widest sense posible, including not just citizens from both countries, but also Cuban patriots who, like Marti, resided in the U.S. to gather support for the Cuban Independence Wars.

Those wanting to take a look won’t have to wait long as photos published and distributed by official and unofficial Cuban media channels showed builders working onsite with a crane lifting the statue to put it in position. Most likely, by now they are finished. If in Havana, go check it out yourself and tell us what you thought of the finished result.

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