New York’s Martí on a pedestal in Havana

“Facing the sea, the port of Havana, and looking at the nation he knew as few did,” announced Eusebio Leal referring to the location of the equestrian sculpture of José Martí, a replica of the one that stands in New York and that was placed yesterday in the 13 de Marzo Park in the Historic Center of the Cuban capital.

Many passersby stopped to witness that moving moment. This is the only sculpture of Martí that shows him at the moment of his death in the battle of Dos Ríos on May 19, 1895, said Leal, the great promoter of the initiative of brining the reproduction to Cuba.

 Eusebio Leal (City of Havana Historian) talks with María Isabel Martínez in the place where the equestrian sculpture of José Martí will be placed. A similar one is in New York’s Central Park. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.
Eusebio Leal (City of Havana Historian) talks with María Isabel Martínez in the place where the equestrian sculpture of José Martí will be placed. A similar one is in New York’s Central Park. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.

The original work was sculpted by U.S. artist Anna Hyatt Huntington by orders of the Cuban government. Concluded in 1959, it measures 5.6 meters and was inaugurated in Central Park six years later, next to the sculptures of Latin American national heroes Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín.

Replica of the equestrian sculpture of Martí in New York placed in Havana. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.
Replica of the equestrian sculpture of Martí in New York placed in Havana. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.

The piece was transported to Havana’s Sierra Maestra terminal from the Mariel Special Development Zone, where it arrived from the United States. In early 2016 the Bronx Art Museum and the Ford Foundation allied in this effort. The Friends of José Martí group was created then, with the intention of collecting the more than two million dollars needed to make the reproduction in bronze of the original sculpture and to organize other activities devoted to Cuba’s National Hero.

Many passersby wanted to witness this moving moment. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.
Many passersby wanted to witness this moving moment. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez Díaz.

At the base of the statue there is an inscription that says: “From the people of United States to the people of Cuba, encompassing in the concept of the people of the United States not only its citizens but also the patriotic Cubans who established their residence there.”

“Facing the sea, the port of Havana, and looking at the nation he knew as few did.” Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.
“Facing the sea, the port of Havana, and looking at the nation he knew as few did.” Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

In Havana there are other works by Hyatt Huntington, like “El relevo,” in the vicinity of Revolution Square, or the group of historical monuments “Los portadores de la antocha.”

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