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Capacity building in Cuba on protection of the underwater heritage
 
    
11 May 2016/ UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

The city of Santiago de Cuba will host the Foundation Course on Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage, using Admiral Pascual Cervera’s sunken fleet as a case study, from 16 to 27 May.

The capacity building is organized in the framework of the project “Protection and management of underwater and coastal cultural heritage for job creation in Santiago de Cuba”, financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and coordinated by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, jointly with the National Cultural Heritage Council of Cuba, the Regional Centre for Natural and Cultural Underwater Heritage Management of Santiago de Cuba (founded after the project had started), and the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO, among other national stakeholders, and with the support of the AECID Technical Cooperation Office in Cuba.

The adoption of a national strategy for Cuban underwater heritage and the edition and broad dissemination of the magazine Culture & Development Nº 13, exclusively devoted to the underwater cultural heritage, are also inscribed in the framework of the above mentioned project.

The strategy, at present in the final checking stage, aims at giving a more integrated and multidisciplinary approach to the actions developed by the country related to the underwater cultural heritage, in order to use it in a sustainable way in benefit of people.

The main objective of this training course is to cooperate in the effective protection of the underwater cultural heritage through the proper application and correct articulation of three UNESCO normative instruments related to this singular and highly vulnerable heritage: the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The course will make possible the preparation of 14 young specialists from six provinces of the country, which will have the opportunity to be trained by experienced professionals in the theme, such as doctors Ovidio Juan Ortega Pereyra (Cuba), Vice-President of the 2001 Convention Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB), and Xavier Nieto (Spain), member of STAB, jointly with the underwater archaeologist Tatiana Villegas, Culture specialist at the UNESCO Office in Haiti, and numerous Cuban experts.

Some of the wrecks in the Santiago de Cuba Naval Battle of 1898 Underwater Archaeological Park, declared National Monument of the Republic of Cuba in 2015, will be used for the practical exercises. The Park comprises seven archaeological sites (Playa Siboney, Las Cuatro Bocas, Playa Mar Verde, Rancho Cruz - Buey Cabón, Ensenada de Juan González, Aserradero y Playa La Mula), where lie the wrecks of five Spanish and two American ships linked to the 1898 landing and naval battle.

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