Thanks to efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, pathways for Americans to visit this island nation by sea and by air continue to expand. It is not a matter if you will visit Cuba, it is a matter of when. La Habana, the capital of Cuba, was named after the Taino cheftain, Habaguanex, who ruled that area when a Spanish conquistador founded that settlement 500 years ago. Today, Havana has become an international locus for contemporary art and the center of an effort to restore Cuba’s heritage and architecture.
The 12th Havana biennial highlighting Cuban contemporary artists and other artists from around the world concluded in June at exhibition spaces, museums and galleries throughout the city. Painters, sculptors, photographers and performance artists exhibited their work at locations as diverse as El Morro and La Caban~a, the Spanish colonial fortresses overlooking Old Havana, to the Maleco´n, the waterfront promenade favored by friends and lovers at sunset. Museum curators, gallery owners, art aficionados and lucky tourists all had the opportunity to meet with up-and-coming and established artists and view their work. Contemporary Cuban art is becoming sought after by collectors for both its intrinsic value of personal expression and its future value as an investment.
Part of the cultural patrimony of any country is its historic buildings. For many years Cuba neglected these important structures and they fell into disrepair. Realizing the significance of their history, not only for future generations but to the burgeoning tourism industry, Cuba appointed conservators for the cities of Cienfuegos and Havana. Their task was to restore the historic centers of those cities, which were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The work in the southern city of Cienfuegos on the Caribbean Sea is just about complete, while the restoration of La Haban~a Vieja (Old Havana) is ongoing.
Havana is experiencing a renewal of spirit, entrepeneurship and possibilities. While visitors from Canada, Europe and Latin America have had the opportunity to see this first hand in recent years, it is now time for Americans to reestablish the friendship forged between Cuba and the United States, which was an outcome of the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Capt. Jeff Werner has been in the yachting industry for over 25 years. In addition to working as a captain on private and charter yachts, both sail and power, he is a certified instructor for the USCG, US Sailing, RYA and the MCA. He is also the Diesel Doctor, helping to keep your yacht’s fuel in optimal condition for peak performance. For more information, call 239-246-6810, or visit MyDieselDoctor.com. All Marinalife members receive a 10% discount on purchases of equipment, products and supplies from Diesel Doctor.