Eusebio Leal



In all probability, without Eusebio Leal, Old Havana would have suffered the fate of other historic quarters: degradation, if not outright demolition. Born in the Cuban capital in 1942, Leal was an autodidact who after Castro’s revolution was able to complete his studies in history, and eventually became city historian. The post was the springboard from which emerged a Leal committed body and soul to protecting architectural heritage in times marked by the ideology of communist developmentalism. He played a key role in renovating the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the first restoration work ever to be carried out in the capital, and from 1981 onward he was at the helm of a project of greater scope: directing all restoration works in Havana’s historic center. With the dissolution of the USSR and the cessation of subsidies, Leal was faced with the huge problem of funding restoration and preservation in a period of scarcity, and persuaded Fidel Castro that the city ought to have its own financing system based to a large extent on tourism. Thanks to this, hundreds of buildings were restored and the Caribbean jewel was saved.

Included Tags: