Didem Doğan

Looking over el Capitolio and the City

The Cuban Revolution of 1959: it is a landmark in the history of every place here which has a ‘before’ and ‘after.’ This was the parliament house until the revolution: the place where the government ruled the country until then. But was there a country then after all? Or more precisely, was there a Cuban identity then? This building which was inspired by the Pantheon in Paris is a perfect replica of the one in Washington, but its architecture is even richer. The money from the exploitation of the country’s rich sugar cane fields by the U.S.A.-supported dictator of the period after the W.W.I., Gerardo Machado, and the Western powers, offers a clue to the glamour of this building. In today’s Cuba which disavowed its past, this building is now the Museum of Science and Technology. As if asserting the futility of an attempt to disavow the past, it still looms over the old Havana’s every street and dome. This is the milestone standard used to measure the distance between Havana and other cities in Cuba. There are many colourful Chevrolet taxis in front of the building. It is being prepared to be the official home of the Cuban parliament again by a renovation project that started in 2013.