CubaPLUS Magazine

Leal returns to Havana to the delight of Cubans

By: Mercy Ramos, Photos: Alexis Rodríguez
Leal returns to Havana to the delight of Cubans

For Cubans and Havana residents in particular, the death of Eusebio Leal just over a year ago left the island’s capital fatherless.

For many people, Leal was the father of Havana, because for a little more than four decades he watched over this city as his own daughter: its problems, its successes, its needs. In short, he was always aware of everything that happened in the city, especially in the old part, where his footprints will never be erased.

One of his activities that all the locals know and remember is when, whenever time allowed, he went out walking the streets to see for himself what was being done in terms of reconstruction and repair of the colonial buildings. He would also get to know the concerns of the inhabitants, whom he would greet as he passed by.

Leal returns to Havana to the delight of Cubans

For this reason, the people of Havana miss him so much. However, since last November 15, on the eve of the 502nd anniversary of San Cristóbal de La Habana, Leal made a permanent return to his beloved city, now as an impressive bronze statue, the work of Cuban artist and National Visual Arts award winner José Villa Soberón.

The sculpture is located in a very special spot, at Calle de Madera at the entrance of the City Museum, former Palace of the General Captains, Leal’s favorite place in the city. Despite being erected only two months ago, it has become a place of pilgrimage, where every passerby stops to “greet” him and even take pictures with him.

For Villa Soberón, creator of other images of Cuban and foreign personalities, such as Alicia Alonso, Benny Moré and John Lennon, this was the most difficult piece because he was very well known and people have different ways of seeing him. However, this statue is a great gift for the capital and its inhabitants, because it gave them back their beloved “father” who, during the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the city, said: “The real mystery is that I lived centuries ago in other bodies and I was here (referring to the Atarés fort) when the castle was built”. Thanks to this new work of visual art, his presence and legacy will continue in his beloved Havana for centuries to come.

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