Behind a podium boasting “Patria y Vida” at the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Monday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $25 million request to make structural repairs to the historic tower.
The budget request will be part of DeSantis’ multi-billion dollar proposal for the 2022 legislative session, and is subject to approval by state lawmakers.
The nearly century-old Freedom Tower, which was built in 1925 as the headquarters for the Miami News, served as the central location for processing and documenting Cuban refugees fleeing to Miami during the Cold War. The building now serves as offices and museum space for Miami Dade College.
“We should all, as free people, want to see the day when we have a free Cuba,” DeSantis said during the announcement, which coincided with planned opposition protests on the island.
The cost for repairs to the Freedom Tower was estimated by engineers, Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega said, and will take two or three years to complete. The money, if approved by lawmakers, would pay for structural repairs like waterproofing and shoring of the parking garage, the restoration of historic architecture, a new security system and other additions to make the building more accessible to people with physical disabilities.
For decades, the building has been a central gathering area for rallies and protests in Miami, including those in solidarity with Cubans protesting on the island.
“The Freedom Tower will be 100 years old in 2025,” Pumariega told the Miami Herald. “We want to make sure we celebrate it and that it’s open to the public, not full of scaffolding and unable to show the history of Cuba here.”
Focus on federal policy
In his announcement, DeSantis also slammed the Biden administration for not doing more in Cuba, and underscored that “the state of Florida stands with everybody who is taking to the streets, everybody who is protesting.”
The Yucatan Times
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