Mr Hemingway's children
… and how those nasty Americans are refusing to come to the rescue of what is now a government-owned museum.
Now there is an excellent if thoroughly depressing account of what’s going on at Finca Vigia (what's going on in Cuba!), from Adrian McKinty, an Irish writer who was recently in Havana.
In an article published in The Times under the headline, “Any book in Hemingway’s library for $200”, McKinty reveals how during his visit one of a "secret policeman" at the villa attempted to sell him books and other artifacts from the collection.
It seems such offers are not uncommon, with tourists also being charged USD10.00 for having their photographs taken sitting at Hemingway’s desk or browsing through the library, which is said to contain hundreds of rare and highly valuable tomes.
Whether these under-the-counter offers to visiting foreigners are known or encouraged by others higher up the Communist Party pecking order is not clear.
As McKinty points out in his lengthy piece, it could be a case of poorly-paid policeman trying to make ends meet in Fidel Castro’s island paradise, a place the Irish visitor describes with considerable sorrow as both sad and sordid.
In particular, he is shaken by the parade of older European and Canadian men who openly flaunt around Havana their latest Cuban sexual “conquests”: black and mulato girls and boys aged as young as 14.
“Apologists for the Castro brothers talk about Cubans uncomplicated attitudes towards sex and money. Why not get paid for a night with a stranger when both parties gain from the experience? We Westerners, they say, are so hung up on morality that we are suspicious of the free-spirited, lusty Cubans,” McKinty writes.
“It’s nonsense of course. It’s nothing to do with Latin expansiveness and Western repression. It’s about a mis-managed economy, the embargo, endemic corruption, poverty and desperation.”
H/T: Babalu; Picture: Enrique de la Osa, Reuters