A statue of 19th-century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti sponsored by a Bronx arts organization was unveiled on the island during a ceremony Sunday.
Marti — the champion of the country’s drive for freedom from Spain — lived in New York City for years during his exile, and the statue in Havana is a replica of a work in New York’s Central Park.
“I’m extraordinarily overjoyed that we in Havana can on this day enjoy such a beautiful work of poetic inspiration,” Havana city historian Eusebio Leal told the crowd, which included Cuban President Raul Castro, Reps. Barbara Lee and Karen Bass (both D-Calif.) and Republican Rep. Roger Marshal of Kansas. Mayor de Blasio also sent a letter read aloud by an assistant.
The 18-foot statue shows Marti at the moment he was fatally shot on horseback during a battle against Spanish rule in 1895.
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The money for the $2.5 million sculpture was raised by the Bronx Museum of the Arts, an organization that has close ties with Cuban state cultural organizations.
It has been placed in a prominent site in Havana, near the Museum of the Revolution and facing the Florida Straits and the United States.
The original statue, sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1958, was erected on the south end of Central Park and was a gift from the Cuban people before the Communist takeover of 1959. “Creating a replica at this time to present to the city of Havana is a fitting complement to the monument’s unique history,” the Friends of Jose Marti Sculpture Project website says.
Sunday was the 165th anniversary of the birth of Marti, a renowned poet, journalist and fighter for Cuban independence.
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