14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labradea, Havana, 2 February 2017 — After three years of being closed to the public, the viewpoint of the José Martí Memorial in the Plaza of the Revolution reopened its doors on Wednesday. The highest point in Havana has been out or service for domestic and foreign visitors since the elevator broke after more than five decades of use.
Only a small group of invited guests and press were allowed access to the reopening, despite the fact that from the early hours more than a dozen people waited to ascend to the top of the tower, which occasioned annoyance and complaints.
The access to the viewpoint, some 460 feet above sea level and with a 30-mile view, was finally restored asof 1 February, after several days of testing of the new elevator.
The pilot test was not announced in the national press, which only released the date on Wednesday, to “not detract significance to the symbolic reopening”
Ana María Troya Ávila, in charge of the public relations for the monument, told 14ymedio that the service is in “high demand.” She added, “In just seven days this place welcomed around 3,000 visitors, both Cubans and foreigners.”
The pilot test was not announced in the national press, which only released Wednesday date, so as “not to detract from the significance of the symbolic reopening,” she said. One element that contributed to the annoyance of those waiting outside who were not allowed to enter.
One Spanish tourist said she was outraged by the constant bureaucracy of the island. “They keep us waiting for hours and in the end don’t open it,” she protested. Cubans just shake their heads. “We are used to this, the foreigners just have to adapt,” says an old man to calm tempers.
The incident, however, did not diminish the enthusiasm of the employees who made the inaugural tour with an unusual joy. “From this high site you can see points of extreme importance of our capital that distinguishes us in any part of the world”, detailed Troya Ávila.
According to Jorge Estany Ramírez, administrator of the memorial and the person in charge of the process of buying and assembling the elevator, the supplier of the equipment has been the Spanish company Electra Vitoria. “Its speed is six feet per second and is among the fastest in the city right now.” He also highlighted the hard work in the installation and adjustment process that began in early 2016 and has lasted until this January.
“The repair was complicated, because a major change was made, the entire elevator system was replaced from the machinery to the counterweight, so it was a year of hard work that involved not only the change of the old structure, but the need for other repairs that came up during the assembly and in the years that no service was provided,” said Estany Ramírez.
“For us this reopening represents a profit from the economic point of view , because it is a benefit that raises a lot of money and the income is soaring”
One important fact that Troya Ávila wanted to emphasize is the compass of the winds that is inlaid in the floor of the viewpoint, showing the distances between the Memorial and the six provinces at the moment of the construction of the monument and some capitals of the world, and also the significant places related to the life of José Martí.
“For us this reopening represents a benefit from the economic point of view, because it is a that raises a lot of money and the income when we provide these services are soaring and favors us,” said the official.
The Venetian ceramic murals, which are the work of the Cuban Enrique Caravia, in addition to all the images of the floor will be restored in cooperation with the Office of the Historian of the City. The managers of the place plan for the work to be carried out without affecting the access of the visitors.
The José Martí Memorial is open to the public from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm and offers a full tour for 8 Cuban pesos (CUP -roughly $0.32 US) for residents on the Island or 6 CUP if they only want to access the lookout point. Foreigners must pay 5 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC – roughly $5.00 US) and 3 CUC for the same services.