Angela Rojas of the International Council on Monuments and Sites Academy discussed the importance of preserving Cuban world heritage at a lecture in Goldsmith Hall on Tuesday.
During the lecture, Rojas said certain locations in Cuba are key to understanding Cuban history and identity, including Trinidad, Old Havana with its fortification system and the urban historic center of Cienfuegos.
According to Rojas, visitors can learn about the sites’ histories and how they contributed to present-day Cuba. Rojas said Camagüey is a city that has been on the island since the 16th century.
“It is a city where you can witness history while traveling east to west, and it is incredible in its preservation, as there is much to learn from it,” Rojas said.
Anna Nau, an architecture graduate student who attended the lecture, said such sites are important for Cubans and Americans.
“The general culture significance is great for those who live there and for the rest of the world,” Nau said. “It’s a country that Americans have a very specific idea about based on the political issues between the United States and Cuba, and I did not know the cultural significance these Cuban cities possess.”
Rojas said proper planning and management for the sites is crucial for their preservation, and it is the general public’s responsibility to ensure that actions are being geared toward the stability of these sites.
“Management should be led by community,” Rojas said. “The rest of the stakeholders should support a strict control of authenticity and integrity.”
Rojas said a way of helping stability in the region includes improving the living conditions and schools for those who live in the cities. She said she is content with the work that is currently being done in Cuba and credits tourism for much of the work that has been done.
“There are a lot of problems, but there is a lot of great private work going into the restoration due to new policies” Rojas said. “An innovative management system in Old Havana improving everything including restorations has its bases on cultural tourism.”
Isabelle Atkinson, an architecture senior who attended the lecture, said restoring and preserving Cuban sites also helps preserve Cuban culture.
“Restoring such sites keeps true to Cuban heritage and does not allow international influence to change the rich culture that is already there,” Atkinson said.