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Cuban Historian Eusebio Leal, Who Oversaw Renewal of Old Havana, Dies at 77

Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, who oversaw the transformation of crumbling Old Havana - a UNESCO world heritage site since 1982 - to an immaculately restored colonial tourist attraction, has died at 77.

The doctor in historical sciences, has been the Historian of Havana for 53 years and was one of the nation’s most prominent public intellectuals although he was well known even outside Cuba.

Leal refurbished over 300 building and rebuilt tourist-friendly sites such as El Floridita, where Ernest Hemingway is said to have helped pioneer the daiquiri, and another famous watering hole, La Bodeguita del Medio.

He oversaw restoration of some of the faded facade of the Malecon, the city’s famous seawall, and El Morro, the Spanish fort that guards the entrance to Havana Harbor.

Also the Boutique-Museum of Cuervo y Sobrinos in calle Muralla has been one of Leal’s most important project to revive Old Havana.

“La Habana es un estado de animo” was one of his famous quote. Havana is a state of mind of which no one is indifferent; with this statement, he wanted to emphasize the eclectic character, the beauty and the charm of the city in which he has been de-facto the mayor for over 50 years.

Cuba and the world will preserve the indelible mark of an unrepeatable man in history.

Cuervo y Sobrinos and all the Team in Switzerland will remember him as a real gentleman and as fantastic friend.