Cuba’s Hemingway Museum, a Bridge of Friendship

Elio Delgado Legon  (Photos: Elio Delgado Valdes)

HAVANA TIMES — There are many examples of how people from Cuba and the USA interact and collaborate with each other in various fields such as science, culture, medicine and sports. It occurs despite the fact that US governments have tried numerous times to prevent contact between the two peoples, either not allowing Americans to travel to Cuba or by denying visas to Cubans to participate in events in that country.

An example of successful cultural collaboration is in the Hemingway Museum at Finca Vigia, in the community of San Francisco de Paula, about 12 kilometers from downtown Havana. There, the great American writer called home during the last 21 years of his life. The property was donated by him to the Cuban government and converted into a museum a year after the writer’s death, which occurred on July 2, 1961.

Hemingway moved to Finca Vigia in 1939 renting at first from its French owner. In 1940 he married his third wife, Martha Gellhorn and in December of that year he purchased the property.

It was at Finca Vigia that Hemingway finished “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and wrote “The Old Man and the Sea,” book by which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 1954.

A month after his death by suicide, his widow and fourth wife Mary Welsh returned to Havana, where she met with Fidel Castro and formally donated the estate to the Cuban government, keeping with the desire of her husband.

Some years ago in the United States a non-profit foundation was created to support the restoration and preservation of the residence of the writer in Cuba.

Recently, Jenny Phillips, director of the Foundation, signed the renewal of the agreement that this institution maintains for eleven years with Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council.

Jenny is the granddaughter of Max Perkins, one of Hemingway’s best friends and editor of most of his books. When she toured the Finca Vigia, in March 2014, she said of her grandfather: “He would have shared with me the joy of seeing how in Cuba there is a desire to preserve the legacy of Ernest Hemingway. He communicated to me the affection he felt for Cuba, something I keep in mind when I appreciate the seriousness, responsibility and the love with which Cubans have preserved valuable legacy.”

The newly renewed agreement includes the effort to digitalize the documents of the Hemingway Museum, including the books in his library in which he made notes.

On that visit, Jenny Phillips referred to the friendship of the writer with Fidel Castro, who she wished long life. She said she has kept up on his health and is glad to know that despite the physical ailments he has suffered, he remains an active and lucid thinker.

Another example of collaboration with the restoration and conservation of Finca Vigia comes from Bob Vila, an American of Cuban descent knowledgeable of property restoration, who has become a TV star in the US. Vila is currently actively involved in the restoration of Hemingway’s home in Cuba.

Bob Vila and Jenny Phillips are two examples of how the Finca Vigia Hemingway Museum has become a bridge of friendship between the Cuban and US people.

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Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

11 thoughts on “Cuba’s Hemingway Museum, a Bridge of Friendship

  • July 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Moses, I wish I could be a fly on the wall if you and Elio
    ever got together in Cuba. One thing for certain,
    Mr. Delgado-Legon sure knows how to stir the pot.

  • July 17, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    When it comes to “hating” tyranny and oppression, I am indeed a specialist. Thank you for the compliment.

  • July 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Yeah, well, hating seems to be a specialty of yours.

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