Cuba's Capitol reopens after years of restoration

From Reuters - March 1, 2018

HAVANA (Reuters) - After eight years of restoration work, Cuba on Thursday re-opened to the public the doors of its Capitol, an imposing neoclassical gem previously shunned as a symbol of U.S. imperialism now to become the seat of its national assembly.

Built in 1929 to house Cubas Congress and inspired by Washingtons Capitol, it was swiftly repurposed after Fidel Castro 1959 leftist revolution along with other buildings seen as testament to corrupt governments too cozy with the Americans.

Most recently used for the Science and Technology Ministry, its restoration was started in 2010 as part of the Office of City Historians revamp of Havana, one of the architectural treasures of Latin America.

Four years later came the landmark announcement of a U.S.-Cuban detente by Cuban President Raul Castro and former U.S. President Barack Obama, although that is now under threat from the more hostile stance of the administration of Donald Trump.

This is one of the most illustrious architectonic works in the world, Toms Hechavarra, Capitol administrator, standing in the main hall under the cupola with its gleaming inlaid marble floors and gilded lamps, dominated by the 57 feet (17.5-meter) tall bronze Statue of the Republic.

Hechavarra said the building was ready to receive the next assembly session - a historic one on April 19 to select a new president, set to be the first non-Castro leader in nearly 60 years. It was not a done decision yet, however, he added.


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