José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform
The José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform (Spanish Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí) is located in the Plaza de la Dignidad, across the street from the United States Interests Section in Havana. It was opened in April 2000.
It lies between the waterfront Malecón, Calzada Avenue and N and M streets in Vedado on the coast of Havana. The first demonstration there was an anti-American protest over the custody of Elián González, a six-year-old Cuban boy at the time. This event was part of the Cuban efforts to have Elián returned to Cuba and his father, a movement that was ultimately successful in June that year. The site of the protest was just getting broken in, however, as it would be the grounds for dozens of government-led rallies in years to come. Information about the previous use of the land or the different construction projects on the land is scarce, however some important details can be seen in an aerial shot. For example, the design shown in the undated picture shows a giant star made into the ground, with the plaza’s stage at the center. The red point of the star that points straight to the U.S. Interests Section building a few hundred feet away is most clear.[original research?]
As of May 2006, the plaza includes a stage, metal arches over the crowd area, and a monument of 138 flags. The stage and arches have been up since before a May 2005 concert by the American rock band Audioslave, which the band claims was the first outdoor rock and roll concert on Cuban soil by an American band. The capacity of the plaza was an impressive 60,000 for that free concert, but the specifics as to the setup for each event are unknown.
The "Wall of Flags"
The flag monument by the plaza first appeared on February 6, 2006 as a response to and an obstruction of the American electronic message ticker on the fifth floor of the U.S. Interests building. The relationship between the monument and the ticker board is not coincidental, as evidenced by the flags' appearance less than a month after the billboard’s first use on January 16 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. These 138 flags, each black with a white star in the center, were raised on 20 meter flagpoles, supposedly to put them high enough to block the ticker's visibility. Most likely, the flags will effectively block the audience in the José Martí Plaza from seeing the American ticker board, as they could during a speech by Fidel Castro in the plaza on January 24, 2006.
The number and design of the flags were to memorialize Cuban victims of terrorism, especially the 73 people who died in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner. When the flags were first hoisted in early February 2006, the alleged mastermind of this attack, Luis Posada Carriles, was under U.S. custody for illegal immigration to the U.S.
- Audioslave official website
- "Tribuna Antimperialista José Martí", EcuRed (Cuban state wiki, in Spanish)