14ymedio, Havana, 24 February 2016 – For several days students at the University of Havana have observed with surprise several teams of builders who are refurbishing and repairing the common areas and the most important areas on “The Hill,” the site of the University of Havana. Speculations about the Aula Magna – the Great Hall – as a possible site for Barack Obama’s speech have soared as a result of the major clean up.
Were he to speak there, he would be the first United Stats president to take the floor at this academic site; Jimmy Carter spoke there in 2002 but he was no longer in office. On that occasion, the speech stood out particularly for his reference – with the speech being broadcast live on television – to the independent Varela Project, which advocated political reforms.
In that speech, the politician who for years official propaganda had referred to disparagingly as “the peanut seller,” alluded to his agricultural origins, and also requested that the then government of Fidel Castro allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Cuban prisons, and receive the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss issues such as prisoners of conscience.
Those who speculate that Obama will speak in the emblematic auditorium during his March visit, hope that the president of the United States will demand greater freedoms as well as mass access to the internet.