Cubans are once again touring their Capitol, a structure reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol, as it undergoes a painstaking restoration. Sean Carberry reports.
It's almost like a Capitol clone. Even the construction scaffolding on Cuba's Capitol dome is reminiscent of that currently on the U.S. Capitol. El Capitolio was built 103 years after America's and its dome is 12 feet taller. This group of Cuban tourists is the first to wander the halls of the dust-laden building since the complex restoration began in 2010. One of the first tourists is a sculptor named Antonio. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SCULPTOR AND VISITOR, ANTONIO, SAYING: "The Republic of Cuba was formed here and the legislation worked here, the Cuban government, everything... So this has tremendous importance from a historical point of view and from the point of view of the building it is a beauty, a marvel." Cuba's National Assembly will return to the building after the renovation. The Assembly vacated the Capitol after the 1959 revolution because the building was viewed as a sign of closeness with the U.S. Since assuming the presidency in 2008, Raul Castro has worked to repair ties with the U.S. as well as restore historic buildings, especially in Old Havana. Jorge Cisneros, one of the architects behind the restoration, says small tours will run through the summer under a plan set out by the Office of the City Historian. Architects have refused to say when the building will reopen for the National Assembly, nor have they revealed the cost, which is being covered entirely by the Cuban government.