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Cuba says Hemingway legacy protected by eased travel restrictions

posted 25 May 2011, 15:43 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 25 May 2011, 15:46 ]

As the battle between Cuba and the U.S.'s decades-old policy of isolating the Communist-run island persists, the two foes find common ground in the preservation of one of the literary world's true gems: the legacy of Ernest Hemingway.

HAVANA, CUBA (MAY 25, 2011) REUTERS - Cuba said Wednesday (May 25) the legacy of American writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived on the island for 20 years until the 1960s, is being protected by the easing of travel restrictions to the communist run island imposed by the United States.

Experts and institutions from both countries have long worked together to preserve the legacy of the "The Old Man and the Sea" writer, but the material and financial support has been limited by the trade

embargo enforced by Washington over the last half century.

Cuban officials on Wednesday said recent policy changes by U.S. President Barack Obama, which included the authorization of academic and religious travel to Cuba since January, have changed the outlook.

"We are satisfied so far with the collaboration that we have had with academics and professionals from diverse organizations in the United States that have drawn close to Cuba with the interest to safeguard the patrimony that (Ernest) Hemingway represents to our country, especially with the Finca Vigia collection," said the vice president of the National Council of Cultural Patrimony, Ana Cristina Escalona who announced a convention on Hemingway's work for June.

Since the easing of travel restrictions, American experts have been arriving to Cuba with their bags packed with what they can carry to assist in preserving the history of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate.

"We have had the collaboration from various institutions from the United States that are listed here and that the director, Ada Rosa, has mentioned in the restoration of the legacy, in other words, we are talking about the elements that make up the Hemingway collection. We are fundamentally talking about everything that has to do with the conservation of documents, photographs and it has also been very important, over the last few years, the exchange of specialists," Escalona added.

Work in restoring and digitizing books belonging to the writer have put ore than 3,000 unedited documents at the disposal of academics and experts including letters written by the author.

"We already have results, the process for all of the photographs within the collection is almost complete. We have also managed Hemingway's letters that are part of the museum's collection and the interest to expand in this area exists, above all else the conservation of documents."

Havana's Ernest Hemingway Museum houses much of the states collection and the Cuban government has long invested in restorations including that of a mansion outside Havana known as the Finca Vagia where Hemingway lived from 1939 before returning to the U.S. in 1960 following the Cuban Revolution.

Cuban shipyards also restored his yacht, the Pilar, which is a treasured part of the novelists footprint on the island.

Cuban experts say Hemingway, who met former Cuban President and revolutionary, Fidel Castro while living in Cuba, left the country after being pressured by then U.S. ambassador Philip Wilson.

Hemingway committed suicide in 1961 at the age of 61 in Idaho.