HAVANA, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- A replica of the equestrian statue of Jose Marti was officially inaugurated in the Cuban capital of Havana on Sunday, the 165th anniversary of the Cuban patriot's birth.
Killed in a battle in 1895, Marti has been revered as a national hero who fought to win Cuba's independence from Spain. Arriving in Cuba last October, the replica was placed near the entrance to the Havana Bay, in a park located in front of the Revolution Museum.
The original bronze statue of Marti on horseback has been located at Central Park in New York since 1965. It was created by famous American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1950 as a gift to the United States.
The sculpture is the only known one that depicts Marti who died in the battle of Dos Rios in eastern Cuba on May 19, 1895, and was based on a missing painting by Cuban painter Esteban Valderrama.
Due to the bitter dispute between Cuba and the United States since 1959, with the triumph of the revolution on the island nation headed by Fidel Castro, the sculpture was not inaugurated until 1965 in New York, very close to the statues of the Latin American heroes Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin.
Eusebio Leal, a historian from Havana, decided to bring a replica statue of Marti back to Cuba during a trip to New York 21 years ago. His idea won support from the Hispano-American Society and the Museum of the Bronx, despite bureaucratic obstacles and the need to raise 2 million U.S. dollars.
Leal then led a fundraising campaign, in which several U.S. institutions, U.S. citizens, Cuban emigrants and a Mexican lady who requested to remain anonymous donated money.
In that campaign, Leal mentioned Google, which did not provide funds but made a special television program "that reached millions of people."
These funds were paid for the scanning of the original statue, weighing three tons and measuring nearly 5.7 meters, with a black marble pedestal.
The copy of the sculpture was sent to Cuba on the same day when the Donald Trump administration expelled several Cuban diplomats in retaliation for alleged sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats and U.S. embassy staff in Havana.
That accusation caused the current setback in the Cuba-U.S.ties, which are going through the worst moment in a decade.
"Beyond the misguidance and the erratic politics, beyond those trying to destroy bridges and communication, it (Cuba-U.S. friendship) will persist between the two nations and the two peoples," Leal said.