Call for U.S.-Cuba cooperation on marine conservation

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 7.44.33 AMWASHINGTON, DC—On November 17, John Hemingway—grandson of author Ernest Hemingway—will visit Washington to call for cooperation between the United States and Cuba on marine conservations efforts, as well as an end to restrictions on U.S. citizens’ ability to travel to Cuba.

With American and Cuban environmental scientists Dan Whittle of the Environmental Defense Fund and Jorge Angulo Valdés of the University of Havana’s Center for Marine Research, Mr. Hemingway will visit the White House, State Department, and Congress to highlight the negative effect of the travel ban on environmental conservation efforts in the Florida Straits.

In honor of the 60th anniversary of their grandfather’s Nobel Prize in Literature, John Hemingway and his brother Patrick recently traveled to Cuba to promote U.S.-Cuba environmental cooperation; while there, they visited their grandfather’s home and met with Cuban environmental scientists.

A longtime resident of Cuba, Ernest Hemingway was an avid fisher and had a keen interest in the conservation of migratory fish species in the Florida Straits. His novel about a Cuban fisherman, The Old Man and the Sea, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and contributed to his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature the following year.

The novel reflected his love of fishing and the outdoors as well as his affection for Cuba, an affection that persisted through the Cuban Revolution and up to his death in 1961.

Given the two countries’ turbulent diplomatic relationship, it is easy to forget that Cuba and the United States are only 90 miles apart and share the waters of the Florida Straits. In recent years, it has become more urgent than ever to address environmental concerns—pollution, overfishing, oil spills, and more—in our shared waters.

But the 52-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba prevents American citizens from traveling freely to Cuba and keeps U.S. and Cuban scientists, professionals, and non-governmental organizations from working together on vital issues of mutual concern.

During his visit to Washington, Mr. Hemingway will urge President Obama to use his executive authority to expand licensed travel to Cuba in order to facilitate cooperation between the two countries. Mr. Hemingway’s visit is particularly well-timed given the news that the United States and Cuba are cooperating on the Ebola outbreak, as well as rumors that the Obama administration is considering updating its policy toward Cuba.

The visit is being organized by the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) under the auspices of LAWGEF’s U.S.-Cuba Hemingway Commemorative Project.

Wola, Progreso Weekly

November 12, 2014

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