* Easing embargo may help preserve Hemingway's Cuba legacy
* Hemingway museum organizing Havana conference
By Esteban Israel
SAN FRANCISCO DE PAULA, Cuba, May 26 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
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.
MONEY FOR COMMUNISTS
The Bush administration argued that improvements on the
Hemingway properties would increase the flow of tourists and
money to the communist-led government it opposed.
There remains work to be done not only on the home, but in
the preservation and digitization of thousands of books and
documents that sat for years in the basement, Alfonso said.
Cuba, feeling the effects of the global financial crisis,
is committed to protecting Hemingway's legacy but has limited
access to expensive equipment due in part to the U.S. embargo,
Obama has said he wants to "recast" relations with the
communist-run island and has softened restrictions on travel
and remittances for Cuban Americans. Last week, he offered to
resume immigration talks interrupted by Bush.
Obama has said he would keep the embargo, imposed since
1962, as leverage until Cuba shows progress on human rights.
The museum is organizing a biannual conference on
Hemingway's heritage, with several experts from the United
States scheduled to attend the June 18-21 event.
The conference will be held at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in
Old Havana where the Nobel-winning author lived and worked upon
his arrival to Cuba in the 1930s.
The academic event will include a pilgrimage to some of the
writer's favorite bars like La Bodeguita del Medio and El
Floridita. There will be plenty of mojitos and daiquiris,
Hemingway's favorite drinks, the organizers said.
Hemingway left Cuba in 1960, a year after the Cuban
revolution. Wracked by depression, he committed suicide a year
later in the United States.
(Reporting by Esteban Israel; editing by Jeff Franks and John