The restoration of Habana Vieja and its redevelopment as a major tourism attraction has been the work of an unlikely government bureaucracy: The Office of the City Historian. Under the leadership of Eusebio Leal Spengler, a world-renowned historical preservationist and a powerful Communist Party official, the office has developed its own travel agency, construction and finance firms and a fast-growing commercial enterprise, Habaguanex.
Named after the chief of the Taino Indian tribe that inhabited the area when the Spanish arrived, Habaguanex owns and operates all of the major hotels and restaurants in Old Havana. And, in recent years it has been adding retail establishments to its inventory, taking over historic buildings, restoring them and reopening them with stores that sell all kinds of imported goods including luxury items like cosmetics and big-screen televisions. (Visit the Habaguanex website for a full list of hotels, restaurants, and shops.)
Compare what belongs to Habaguanex, tourism and retail conglomerate, versus all other state enterprises on Calle Obispo in an interactive map>>