Havana airport prepares for reopening with new mural

Havana airport prepares for reopening with new mural

HAVANA, Oct. 24th  (AP) After months of isolation due to the new coronavirus, Cuban artist Michel Mirabal installed an enormous mural in the departure lounges of Cuba’s largest air terminal on Monday.

Now, what will also remain in the minds of travellers before they bid farewell to the Caribbean island, is a painting of a huge sunflower whose heart holds the Cuban flag.

“We want the work of art to serve as a doorway into and out of Cuba,” said Mirabal, 47, who over the course of 25 years of artistic life has become one of the most outstanding plastic artists on the island.

Another of his iconic murals is prominently displayed in the Habana Libre hotel, once known as the Havana Hilton, a flagship of the US hotel chain. On Monday, guided by Mirabal, technicians and workers were giving the final touches to the installation of his newest creation in Terminal 3 of the José Martí airport in Havana.

The work is called “Cachita protects all Cubans”, a motto inscribed at the bottom of the mural. Cachita is the popular name for the Virgin of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, and a powerful figure for the island’s population. The project began two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of permits delayed its placement.

The colourful mural is 8 meters (26.2 feet)  high by six meters (19.6 feet) wide. Cuba is about to reopen its borders, especially air travel, starting on November 15 after months of social isolation imposed by the new coronavirus. Authorities expect 90% of the islanders to be vaccinated by mid-November.

The government has initiated a series of actions to de-escalate the isolation measures, such as opening shops and businesses, easing transport restrictions, and the gradual return to face-to-face classes for young people.

The highlight of the return to normality will be the reopening of Havana’s José Martí airport, the gateway to and from Havana for the millions of people who arrive on the island every year.