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“Spain must not lose Cuba for the second time”

Eusebio Leal (Havana, 1942) directs the Office of the City Historian of Havana for almost four decades. Since that post, has been at the forefront of the rescue and rehabilitation of the Historic Centre of the cuban capital, which has become an emblem of the conservation of heritage in Latin America and a model on how to combine restoration and social development in areas of high architectural value, which has been awarded with the Queen Sofia Prize and many other awards. With him have discovered the secrets and wonders of Old Havana's most illustrious visitors, from the former Spanish Adolfo Suárez and Felipe González, the King emeritus Juan Carlos I, or the former president u.s. Barack Obama. All accompanied Loyal, as you will do next Friday with the president as Pedro Sanchez, whose visit is considered a “gesture of friendship”. “It's a visit very significant, because with him comes all the Spanish people. I said one day that we can do without politicians, but of Spain: Spain is integral to the nature of our people, we are of the same lineage, a people who can forgive him everything except that he walked on the layer. We have tried to step on the layer, and here we are.”

Loyal, whom all the world in Havana called Eusebius, without the surname, he speaks of the policy of pressure and us embargo, which has just intesify again the administration Trump to include in the black list of cuban enterprises, a number of hotels in which the americans cannot stay, including the newly opened Gran Hotel Packard Iberostar. Given the fact that it is in this hotel where you will stay for the delegation that accompanies Sanchez and where he held a large enterprise forum hispanic-cuban, one of the main activities of the trip. “The lock is almost become an attack on home, trying to divide families, prevent the return, of blocking the possibility of the encounter, attacking remittances...”. The Packard, says, “it is a symbol of the willingness expressed in a constant manner by the Spanish companies to stay in Cuba and provide a service of excellence.” The US justified the penalty because the cuban company that owns the hotel, the corporation Seagull, form part of the corporate conglomerate of the Armed Forces, but, says Leal, there Washington is mistaken: “it is certain that the association is with all of us. If the problem is due to an association with the military, who know that all of us are soldiers.”

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Loyal is immersed now in many works of restoration of face to the celebration of the 500 years of the city, on the 16th of November 2019. But you see this exile not as an end, but as “a starting point for important things and soplarle life to the city, to wake up”. “Our task is to preserve, but conserve not to momificar the past. The mission that we have today is precisely to give life, the city is for the living, that is why the Betpark Office has established schools, has worked in the creation of health centres, in the creation of housing in historic buildings, that is the only way of Havana and its historical center is not to become a old town or at a resort, but in a village, welcoming, open and livable”.

it Has Loyal that thanks to the help of the Spanish cooperation works for years the School Workshop, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, who has already graduated 5,000 students, and that thanks to this highly skilled workforce has been possible to carry on the enormous task of rehabilitation of The Havana, which has been awarded by the UNESCO. Those who oppose the travel of Sanchez and any approach to Cuba, sent a message very directly: “in 1898, Spain lost Cuba, because instead of giving the sovereignty to the cuban people, as he should be, ceded to the united States. That never should have happened. It was said: more was lost in Cuba. Still many regret having lost it and that is the reason that also they want it to be yours... Spain should not lose Cuba for the second time. “

One of the challenges now facing the city, he recognizes, is that of the great increase in tourism. “But we can't satanizarlo or afraid, because this is a small country and blocked that is required to have the doors open. What the Pope said: let Cuba open to the world and the world to open to Cuba. The door is open. The united states and some try to close it: so let's keep it open, that every time a ship at a port to be a victory.”

the Fair has a special historical relevance to the view of Sanchez because it brings with it something very special for Cuba: the chair of campaign of Antonio Maceo, hero of the Independence struggles against Spain, fallen in combat on 7 December 1896. The chair, carved in a royal palm with a lone star engraved on the back, were taken to Spain by the governor of the island Valeriano Weyler. It's been 21 years of efforts to bring them back, on loan for two years, thanks to the support of the city Council of Palma of Mallorca: “How Can we not see in this act a beautiful gesture, not of reconciliation, because that is made a long time ago, but an act of sincere friendship? What Spain brings is a part of it, and what we receive is a part of us, we are of one heart and soul, in good times and in bad”.

To the question what is what more you need to continue the restoring work, responds without hesitation: “they don't come to a cyclone.” Only in the second place he claims that “this spirit of ours that has been beaten with so much nobility to save his own, to be assisted and supported as it deserves”. And, she adds, “as a nation of Spanish america we have the hope that Spain participate.” Mentions the journey of the Kings to San Antonio (Texas), where are preserved some buildings from the mission of San José founded in 1720 by the franciscan valencia Antonio Margil. “Those four stones are wonderful, but The Havana is the most western margarita of the Spanish crown, is the key to the new world, Havana is Havana... and the next year will be a year ripe for a lot of things...”.

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