Better U.S.-Cuba ties may help Hemingway legacy

Tue May 26, 2009 5:50pm EDT
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By Esteban Israel

SAN FRANCISCO DE PAULA, Cuba (Reuters) - Keepers of the home and heritage of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba hope U.S. President Barack Obama's desire for better U.S.-Cuba relations will help them preserve the writer's legacy on the Caribbean island.

If Obama eases restrictions enacted by the Bush administration that toughened the U.S. trade embargo, it will help Cuba get the money, equipment and preservation materials needed to maintain the home outside Havana where Hemingway lived for 21 years, Ada Rosa Alfonso, director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum, said on Tuesday.

"If Obama really sticks to his platform, if he can make his intentions real, it will undoubtedly be different," she said.

"But we have to wait and see what happens because it takes more than a president's goodwill to achieve results," she said at the veranda of Hemingway's Finca Vigia, or Lookout Farm, surrounded by palm trees.

U.S. universities and institutions have contributed to a still-incomplete renovation of the Spanish-style, hilltop residence that Hemingway called home from 1939 to 1960 and where he wrote some of his greatest works, including "The Old Man and the Sea" and "Islands in the Stream."

But Alfonso said the Americans were hindered by Bush-era regulations that made it difficult to ship equipment and lend technical expertise for work on the house, which had fallen into such disrepair the U.S.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation put it on its list of most endangered places.

The same bureaucratic obstacles slowed restoration of Hemingway's boat "Pilar," riddled with termites after sitting on the grounds of Finca Vigia for years.


<p>An army jacket used by late Nobel-prize winning author Ernest Hemingway is seen next to military boots at Finca Vigia in Havana May 26, 2009. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa</p>