Mystic Seaport Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker and Museum staff member Maureen Hennessey are currently in Cuba for Amistad’s celebration. Here are a few thoughts emailed to Mystic Seaport from Quentin, sharing the experience:
Any port visit, especially an international one, demands tremendous advance negotiation and logistical planning. Nowhere has this been more true than with Amistad’s visit to Cuba. Saturday evening, March 20, was spent meeting with Havana Travel, an official tourist agency of the government of Cuba, planning multi-faceted programs to be part of this visit. During the later part of this meeting, Fernando Rojas, Vice Minister of Culture, paid a visit to greet us and finalize plans, along with Miguel Barnet, President of the Artists and Writers Union, and a recognized Amistad historian. Saturday night, we were treated to an outstanding cultural program of music and dance at a beautiful theater built in 1930 in downtown Havana. The program clearly demonstrated the influence of Africa on modern Cuba culture.
On Sunday, March 21, we began the day with a Press Conference held at the National Fine Arts Museum. It was well attended by both domestic Cuban and International press, including CNN, NBC, CBS, BBC, among others. The conference consisted of Captain Pinkney, myself and Miguel Barnet. Following the press conference, we enjoyed a wonderful tour of the National Museum of Cuban Art. Lead by the Director, we saw the evolution of Cuban art from Colonial times through modern works. The collection shows the influence of European traditions through the development of a uniquely Cuban style in the late 19th century. In front of the art museum is the National Museum of the Revolution, where Grama is on display. Grama is a yacht that was used by Fidel Castro and 80 freedom fighters which initiated the Cuba revolution.
The rest of the day was spent touring Old Havana and enjoying authentic Cuban cuisine (and cafe’ Cubana, of course).
Sunday evening, Wayne Bartow arrived in time to join us for dinner at a private house restaurant with some Cuban friends.