April 20, 2019

Cuba, Preserving the Cultural Underwater Heritage

Cuba and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed a Memoradum of Understanding on Preservation of Cultural Underwater Heritage.

By H.E. Ms. Soraya Alvarez, Ambassador of Cuba to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Last July 11 on the occasion of celebration of the 116th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of the Netherlandshave signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Preservation of Underwater Cultural Heritage between the National Council of Cultural Heritage of Cuba (CNPC) and the Rijksdienstvoor het CultureelErfgoed (RCE) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In the premises of the Second Palace Cape (Palacio del Segundo Cabo) in the Old Havana held the official ceremony of the signature of the MoU. This MoU express the mutual wishes to continue the development of the historical-archaeological research project, entitled: “The Dutch presence in Cuban waters”. The MoU was signed by the President of the CNPC, Ms. Gladys Collazo Usallán and by Mr. Martijn Manders, Head of the Maritime Program of the Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE).

The CNPC of Cuba and the RCE of Holland, appear to express their mutual pretensions to continue to develop a joint collaboration, with the aim of enriching knowledge about the historical and cultural heritage of both nations, ensuring that all the activities that derive will be in accordance with the current legislation of both countries and in correspondence with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001), and its Annex.

The MoU as an ‘evidence’ for the equal partnership, balanced input, mutual benefit and long term commitment between both countries in this field.

The ceremony was also attended by executives from the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba (MINREX), the Ministry of Culture of Cuba (MINCULT), the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cuba, H.E. Mrs. Alexandra Varkenburg as well as myself as the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cuba, H.E. Mrs. Alexandra Varkenburg.

This special ceremony held also in a historic location: The Palace of the Second Cape, where is also located the Center for the Interpretation of Cultural Relations Cuba-Europe. This Center is an institution that proposes a new museography that uses the technologies of computer science and communications, in a museographic discourse that constitutes a meeting space between both regions in the fields of culture and heritage.

In addition, the Palace has a Cartography Room  in which Cuban and Dutch institutions have also collaborated intensively, and where is discussed the cartographic representation of Cuba through the centuries; it delves into the geographic knowledge of the time that made it possible and the purposes for which it was made.

At the early date of 1500 the Castilian navigator Juan de la Cosa (ca. 1450-1509) drew up the Universal Charter, whose greatest merit lies in being the oldest surviving cartographic work in which the American continent and Cuba appear.

From then on, in nautical charts, plans, coastal profiles and news recorded, the “Key of the New World and Antemural of the West Indies“, title granted to Havana and then, by extension, to Cuba was studied closely by the Europeans. In the multitouch table of the room the visitor can know singularities of the maps and their authors.

The application, which is subdivided into four main themes: Explorations, Confrontations, Trade and Collection, makes visible a vast Dutch cartography never before seen in our country, belonging to the collections of the National Archive of the Netherlands, the Library of the University of Amsterdam, the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam, the Royal Library of The Hague and the Rijksmuseum.

The paneling also refers to navigators, cartographers, geographers and pedagogues, both Cuban and European, who made significant contributions to the discipline worldwide or in its development in Cuba. We also highlight indispensable instruments for navigation and four audio-visuals that bring us closer to the engravings of the bay of Havana and Santiago, by the Dutch cartographer and water colourist Johannes Vingboons.

Undoubtedly, the signing of this MoU was an excellent incentive to continue developing and expanding bilateral relations and building bridges between both countries in all areas of common interest.

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