14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 April 2021 — On the façade of the Hotel Habana Libre, a new sign has been seen for a few days with the phrase “Patria o Muerte Venceremos” (Homeland or Death We Shall Triumph) in red letters and located on a ledge that faces 23rd Street in El Vedado. The slogan, which this year celebrates 61 years of having been pronounced by Fidel Castro, has been harshly questioned in the song Patria y vida (Homeland and Life), which has become a rebellious motto within the Island.
The slogan’s placement has already drawn some criticism, especially among those who regret that the political slogan has been prioritized but the structure with the hotel’s name on top of the building has yet to be restored. “There are resources for ideology but more than two years ago they removed the blue letters that said Habana Libre, supposedly to repair them, and these are the holy hours that they have not returned,” laments a neighbor who lives right in front of the main entrance from the hotel on L Street.
Last March, a mural by the artist Michel Mirabal, with the Cuban flag and the flag of La Demajagua, was also placed on the façade, the latter being the flag that presides over the National Assembly of People’s Power. Days later, a brigade of workers installed the slogan, which according to several residents of the area consulted by 14ymedio, was intended to be seen by the delegates to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party.
“It has nothing to do with the aesthetics of the hotel, but now, who removes it?” asks another neighbor. “It cannot be a coincidence, that was put there near all the posters that have appeared with Patria y Vida. They are not fooling anyone, it is an answer but people are very tired of so much death.”
The architect Alejandra Pino said on Facebook that in that part of the facade there was previously a mural by Cundo Bermúdez that disappeared. The work, placed in 1958, showed an emerald sea on which strange ocher fish floated, but it was later withdrawn when its artist went into exile in the late 1960s.
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