HAVANA TIMES — The official Cuban media on Friday mourned the death of the celebrated Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who they recalled as a friend of former president Fidel Castro and of the Cuban Revolution, reported DPA news.
His “passion for those who are poor” defined him as “revolutionary,” said the Granma newspaper when describing Niemeyer, who for years maintained a close friendship with Castro and was a staunch supporter of the left.
“I will never hide my communist convictions,” the newspaper quoted the South American architect, who died on the eve of his 104th birthday, passing away a in hospital in Rio de Janeiro where he had been hospitalized for more than a month.
Fidel Castro himself, having retired several years ago as president of the Caribbean island, once said that Niemeyer and himself were possibly “the last communists” on the planet.
Niemeyer also left its mark on the island with a monument at the University of Information Sciences, located on the outskirts of Havana. “Such was his admiration for the struggle of the revolution that one of his last works (…) represents a monument against the economic blockade of Cuba,” recalled Granma.
The piece, located in the central courtyard of the university, represents a figure wielding a Cuban flag while facing a huge monster. It is a “symbol of Cuban resistance,” the newspaper said.
The Brasilian architect had been admitted to a Rio hospital on November 2 for dehydration. His health deteriorated due to kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding, which on Wednesday were joined by a respiratory infection.
Though hospitalized for the third time this year, Niemeyer was still working hard, both on the magazine Nuevos Caminos (New Paths), dedicated to architecture, as well as on new projects such as the Library of Arab and South American Countries, which had been commissioned by the Algerian government.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remembered Niemeyer today as one of the “geniuses” of the country and as a “mentor of a new architecture” – one that was “beautiful,” “logical” and “inventive.”
Brasilia dressed in mourning today to receive the remains of the creator of their best-known monuments. The wake for Niemeyer was being held in one of his most famous buildings in the city, the Planalto Presidential Palace, which was offered to the family by Rousseff herself.