19 de septiembre de 2019
Hispanic World

What will happen to Cuba's anti-imperialist grandstand at US Embassy?

By Lorena Canto

By Lorena Canto

Havana, May 23 (efe-epa).- Repair it or demolish it? That is the prevailing question surrounding the Jose Marti "Anti-imperialist Grandstand" that extends in front of the US Embassy in Havana but which seems to be falling into ruin as Havana residents ask themselves what will happen to this symbol of the ongoing disagreements between Cuba and the United States that the late Fidel Castro ordered to be built.

"I don't think the initial project will be abandoned, and even less so in the current circumstances," Ulises Barnet - a local resident who each day walks his dog Negra along the esplanade running from the grandstand, which is now filled with rubble and broken cement slabs - told EFE

The "circumstances" to which Barnet alluded are the newly poisoned relations between Havana and Washington, which had been approaching normalization under former US President Barack Obama, although his successor, Donald Trump, has markedly increased US hostility toward the communist island by imposing new sanctions and engaging in incendiary rhetoric.

Many people think it's strange that right at a time when Cuba is "returning to the trenches" it is also apparently allowing an iconic anti-imperialist structure to fall into ruin.

At the beginning of this week, the independent online daily 14yMedio reported that the grandstand that was erected just a few steps from Havana's famous oceanside boulevard - the Malecon - may disappear to make space for a more pragmatic office building, but the government's Cubadebate Web site came out on Thursday with a denial of that report.

"Under no circumstance are we going to demolish the Grandstand. It will have no other purpose than to continue being the venue par excellence for the struggle against imperialism," an official with the provincial administration declared to the media outlet.

The site was inaugurated amid Cubans' praise on April 3, 2000, by Fidel Castro during one of the tensest periods in the bilateral relationship: the push for the return to Cuba of "rafter child" Elian Gonzalez, who had survived a trip across the Florida Strait to Miami on a homemade raft, a trip during which his mother - who was trying to get him to freedom - died.

The grandstand, according to pronouncements when it was unveiled, was to have a seating capacity of 10,000 and room for 30,000 more standing, and the Cuban public immediately dubbed the site "The Protestdome."

In the months during which the Elian Gonzalez battle raged, tens of thousands of Cubans - many of them children - jammed the Grandstand to demand the boy's return to Cuba, where his father had remained, but they also attended dozens of concerts there and it was the site of assorted rallies for causes such as the independence of Palestine and Puerto Rico.

Until Elian was returned to the island, the megaphones at the grandstand were pointed directly at the US Embassy building.

It was also the site, however, where Cuba repudiated terrorism and war shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the US in an "expression of solidarity" with the victims, as Castro described it at the time.

In 2006, Cuban authorities added 138 huge flagpoles to the site in response to the placing at the US Interests Section - now the Embassy - of an electronic panel on which the US showed political messages that the Havana regime considered to be subversive.

The flags remained in place for three years after the US ceased operating the electronic panel.

The mysterious work currently being undertaken at the site is said to be part of a comprehensive remodeling to "return to the Grandstand the vigor and splendor it always had," the Cuban official said.

The deterioration of the site got worse after coastal flooding caused by Hurricane Irma two years ago, when the area was submerged for two days.

The work there has included erecting a higher platform to reduce the impact of the waves during storm surges and using "more durable" materials. The site's 10 towers and five metal arches are slated to be repaired, although currently there are huge chunks of cement lying everywhere and dust particles permeating the air.

Histórico de noticias
Jason Moran and his ode to jazz arrive at New York's Whitney Museum

New York, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Jason Moran, considered to be one of the most innovative jazz musicians in the United States, has created an ode to that...

Greta Thunberg, activists urge Congress to act on climate change

Washington, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, along with a group of indigenous leaders, on Tuesday demanded...

Nicaragua zoo welcomes scarlet macaw born in captivity

Managua, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Nicaragua's National Zoo has welcomed a baby scarlet macaw, a species in danger of extinction, born in captivity at the zoo for...

Baseball legend Mariano Rivera receives Medal of Freedom from Trump

Washington, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Panama-born baseball legend Mariano Rivera, the former New York Yankees pitcher, on Monday received the Presidential Medal of...

New York hairdressers look after Latino community's mental health

By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy as per settlement

New York, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin, has filed for bankruptcy in the...

Vaping: Roulette of chemical ingredients that can cause cancer

Washington, Sep 16 (efe-epa).- Electronic cigarettes contain a chemical flavoring compound that can cause cancer and that has been prohibited as an additive...

Hurricane Humberto intensifies, threatens US coast with strong waves

Miami, Sep 16 (EFE).- Hurricane Humberto continues intensifying in the Atlantic on Monday and threatens to pound the southeast coast of the United States...

Honduran president asks CentAm to work together to overcome common enemies

Tegucigalpa, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Sunday urged Central Americans to unite to face "common enemies," including...

Venezuelans in forefront of new delivery operations in Ecuador

By Daniela Brik

Maradona makes stumbling debut as Gimnasia coach

Buenos Aires, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- Diego Maradona had a bitter first outing as the new coach for Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, falling to Racing Club 2-1...

Argentina's gov't to present new budget amid economic woes

Buenos Aires, Sep 15 (EFE).- Finance Minister Hernan Lacunza will present the proposed 2020 budget to the Argentine Congress this week, a budget that will...

UN proposes better education, security to protect religious sites

By Mario Villar

Bolivian indigenous people try to recover in aftermath of Amazon fires

By Gabriel Romano

Celebrities turn out to help Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

San Juan, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Almost half of the 2,500 people listed as missing after Hurricane Dorian devastated the northwestern Bahamas have been tracked...

Migrant advocate says Mexican gov't hindered by political realities

By Juan Manuel Ramirez G.

Bahamas officials estimate 2,500 missing after Hurricane Dorian

San Juan, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- Bahamas emergency authorities estimate that some 2,500 people are missing after the devastating passage of Hurricane Dorian...

Trump doesn't rule out easing Iran sanctions to pave way for Rouhani summit

Washington, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday did not rule out relaxing US sanctions on Iran in the coming weeks, amid rumors that he...

Mexico's gov't pumps $5 bn in capital into Pemex

Mexico City, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- The federal government said Wednesday that it was pumping $5 billion in capital into Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), bolstering...

Trump rips Fed, urges rate cuts and zero interest rates

Washington, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Federal Reserve policy makers on Wednesday, calling them "Boneheads" and urging...

Trump threatens Taliban on anniversary of 9/11

Washington, Sep 11 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday - the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks - promised to escalate combat...

Apple opts for classic look with new iPhones, focuses on camera improvements

By Marc Arcas

TV series "Monarca" shows Mexico that doesn't ride burros or wear sombreros

Mexico City, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- The television series "Monarca," which will air on Netflix on Sept. 13, depicts a Mexico that is "current, that doesn't ride...

Tenharim tribe, the guardians of the Amazon, battling against wildfires

By Fernando Bizerra