Caterpillar Donates US $500,000 to Preserve Hemingway’s Home in Cuba

by Fernando Ravsberg

CaterpillarHAVANA TIMES — The Caterpillar Foundation announced that it will donate half a million dollars to the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation, an organization that works to restore and preserve the house of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, including historical documents and other items that belonged to the US writer.

The grant will support the construction of a laboratory with a file storage facility in the Hemingway Museum, known as the workshop building, which is extremely important for the safety and protection of Hemingway’s belongings.

After 55 years of economic embargo against Cuba, the workshop will be the first construction project on the island using materials from the United States. Jenny Phillips, co-chairman of the board of the Finca Vigia Foundation, acknowledged that the support from Caterpillar “will allow preserving the legacy of Hemingway for many generations.”

Hemingway at Finca Vigía.
Hemingway at Finca Vigía.

“Hemingway lived in Cuba for the last 22 years of his life,” Phillips said, adding that “it was where he collected the works of life, including correspondence, proofs, manuscripts and thousands of pictures … the collection is amazing.”

This is not the first gesture of assistance from the company based in Peoria, Illinois. Before it had already “donated power generators to hospitals in Cuba, as a show of support for the community,” as reported in a press release.

The US corporation is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. In 2015 its revenues exceeded US $47 billion.

Caterpillar has just named the Puerto Rican company “Rimco” as its representative to operate in Cuba, as soon as US laws allows it. “We are committed to being a commercial and cultural partner with Cuba,” said Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s chief executive.

Hemingway with Fidel Castro
Hemingway with Fidel Castro

In Cuba much industrial and transportation equipment runs on Caterpillar engines. In mining, industrial compressors and even a large part of the Chinese buses that circulate on the island have Caterpillar engines. So far, these purchases of equipment and spare parts are made via third countries to circumvent the embargo. But the cost to Cuba of those three-way transactions is very high.

Caterpillar seems aware of the mutual benefits that a direct business relationship would bring. The company claims that “for almost two decades it has advocated a change in US public policy regarding Cuba. It continues today to work with the US Congress to end the trade embargo.”

5 thoughts on “Caterpillar Donates US $500,000 to Preserve Hemingway’s Home in Cuba

  • The Canadian businessman Cy Tomakjian imported bulldozers and other construction equipment into Cuba. That is, he did up until he was arrested and jailed by the Castro mafia. Now the Cuban military owns Tomakjian’s business.

  • I visited Finca Vigia about three years ago and the Pilar had been fully restored and looked to be in very good shape. Definitely worth a visit!

  • I saw it in 2012 and it looked good. I have a picture but can’t attach it.

  • As a big Hemingway fan I am gratified to know that there will be substantial funds to apply towards the continued maintenance of Finca Vigia. Hopefully some of those funds will go to restoring Hemingway’s boat, “Pilar”. The last time I saw her she was suffering from some wood rot. However that was some time ago so maybe she’s been restored as well. Perhaps a reader on this sight has seen her recently can add some insight to my comment.

  • I have seen a lot of heavy equipment in Cuba with the name Komatsu on the front. Caterpillar has competition in Cuba, that’s for sure.

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