It’s mostly because of the man pictured on the right that you and I and all the rest of us write the English language the way we do. So it’s disheartening to see that Ernest Hemingway’s legacy in Cuba faces a variety of threats: the idiocies of the embargo, the ineptitude of the Castroite regime and the ordinary ravages of time.
But following Barack Obama’s recent modest overtures, the Cuban government has invited U.S. experts to a heritage conference to be held next month at the Hotel Ambos Mundos on Calle Obispo, pictured below.
Hemingway may be out of fashion in North America, but in Cuba the government has transformed him into a secular saint. The regime exploits this association through the use of clever propaganda aimed at the soft-headed faction of the liberal left, but they’re also entitled to a small measure of praise for at least attempting to preserve the priceless artifacts that Hemingway abandoned when he left Cuba in 1960.
Or, at least, those artifacts that haven’t yet migrated to the black market, as is suggested by this cheeky story in The Times by Adrian McKinty: “Any book in Hemingway’s library for $200.” Read it and be amused by lines like this:
In Montreal you must put up with a plane load of salivating, obese, Québecois sex tourists and via Mexico City the Cuban authorities subject you to the indignities of a full body and luggage search to make sure you are not attempting to undermine the Revolution with subversive copies of Mexican Vogue or People en Espanol.