Eusebio Leal Takes Possession of the Plaza de Armas in Havana

Local passersby taking photos next to the statue of Eusebio Leal, recently inaugurated in Old Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 17 November 2021 — The brand new statue of Eusebio Leal, inaugurated with pomp this Monday in front of the Museum of the City, the former palace of the Captains General in Old Havana, by the president-designate himself, Miguel Díaz-Canel, is only approached by national tourists, who are the only ones that recognize the historian of the Cuban capital rendered in bronze.

The gesture of the sculpture, the work of José Villa Soberón and Gabriel Cisneros Báez, which represents the deceased historian in life size, walking with documents in hand and “step alive,” as described by the official press, lends itself to passersby leaning on him and take selfies. He also begins to be the target of jokes and memes.

Leal became known at the national level through a program that Cuban official television broadcast for years under the title of Andar La Habana (Walk Havana), a phrase that has now become popular slang to describe the daily hustle and bustle in search of basic products that many times takes city residents from one municipality to another.

The place where the figure has been placed could not be more significant. Leal extensively described the wooden street located in front of the palace, the Plaza de Armas, which stands before the door of the building, and El Templete which, a few meters away, marks the founding site of the Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana 502 years ago.

But above all, because Leal was always a great admirer of European royal houses. When King Juan Carlos I visited the Island in 1999, to participate in the Ibero-American Summit, the historian guided him to the throne that the Spanish royal settlements had been waiting for five centuries, but the monarch declined to sit.

Years before, in a select group of friends, Leal had summed up his admiration for power in one sentence: “I am a monarchist and Fidel is my king,” a premise that he followed all his life, in which he enjoyed official privileges but also had to fight against bureaucracy and prohibitions to promote the restoration process in the historic center of the city.

In addition to his political predilections, this Wednesday there were not many who took a photo with the recently inaugurated statue and most of those who did so were Cubans, before the curious gaze of the tourists who, with self-confidence and without a mask, strolled through the place. Attentive to every cell phone that came out of a pocket were the plainclothes police, fearful that some activist would come to the sculpture to make a sovereign rudeness.


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