Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Havana, Dies

Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Havana, passed away July 31 in Havana.

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14ymedio, Havana, 31 July 2020 — Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Havana, passed away this Friday after a long illness, as confirmed by the official newspaper Granma.

A Doctor of Historical Sciences and specialist in Archaeological Sciences, Eusebio Leal Spengler was appointed director of the Museum of the City of Havana in 1967 and was considered the main promoter of the restoration of Old Havana.

A figure closely linked to the ruling party, especially to Fidel Castro, the historian controlled the restoration works of the historic center of the Cuban capital, an area that has experienced sustained tourist growth.

Leal was born on 11 September 1942 in the Cuban capital and was self-taught. At the age of 16 he began working in the municipal government of the city and was closely advised by the then Historian of Havana, Emilio Roig. He later enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and History where he concluded his studies in 1979.

In 2016, Leal Spengler received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Havana. For years the historian suffered from diabetes and four years ago he underwent a surgical operation to remove gallstones.

That same year, Leal suffered a severe setback, when   from the Habaguanex company and the Office of the Historian of Havana, which became part of the Business Administration Group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Gaesa).

In this way, Gaesa took control of the Fénix real estate company, the Puerto Carena construction company and Habaguanex, three entities that obtained important benefits derived from tourism, the sale of merchandise and the restoration of heritage buildings.

Pedro Roig, executive director of the Institute of Cuban Studies, considers that Leal “forged his cultural world between light and shadow. A passionate, educated and obedient commissary of the Communist Party, he will be remembered for his commendable work of restoring the historic center of the City of Havana, converted into an attractive tourist destination (snatched away by Gaesa) and his unworthy devotion to the regime of terror, misery and fear of Fidel Castro.”

In 2013, Eusebio Leal received the rank of commander of the Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration awarded by France. Before, he had been distinguished with the titles of Knight and Officer of the Legion of Honor.

In recent years, the historian’s health had visibly deteriorated, as tributes to his professional work increased. His diabetes caused him to experience several relapses and hospitalizations.

According to the official press and confirmed by this newspaper, there will be no funeral services for now. “In accordance with his family, his ashes will be conserved so that, once the Covid-19 epidemic has been controlled, and as a fair recognition of his imperishable work, our people can pay him a well-deserved tribute in the Capitol of Havana, an emblematic structure that he restored in support of the nation,” said Cubadebate.


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