Cuban Warmth Reigns Supreme for Twelfth International Napoleonic Congress
7-11 July 2014, Havana, Cuba


Cuba’s warm air and warm hospitality ruled the day for participants in the INS Congress there in July. The Parqué Central Hotel was a welcoming host and nearby Old Town Havana proved to be a major draw for participants. Many participants arrived early and stayed late for planned or individual educational tour opportunities. President J. David Markham arrived early to confer with program coordinator Luke Dalla Bona and other officials, including a nice afternoon meeting with French Ambassador Jean Mendelson. Later that evening, many participants got together for the traditional Sunday night reception.


Alicia Galarza, Luke Dalla Bona, Ambassador Jean Mendelson,
President David Markham and Edna Markham meet
with the Ambassador on Sunday


Bob Wiseman and Luke Dalla Bona enjoy a
moment together Sunday evening


Participants arrive on Monday

The registration table


Margaret Crosby-Arnold, Alex Grab, Alan Forrest and
Johan Joor await the start of the program.


Ron Soffer, Allon Klebanoff, David Markham
and Edna Markham Monday morning


John Stanley between Tadeusz Klupczyński
and his wife Alice Aoluckiewicz-Tysnicka


Ambassador Mendelson welcomes the group


The Congress got underway on Monday with opening remarks by President Markham [see his remarks here] and Ambassador Mendelson. Due to a health issue, Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, the historian of Havana, had his remarks read. President Markham announced that later in the week he would be presenting Dr. Spengler with the gold medal of the INS Medaille d’Honneur.

Much of the Congress centered on the history and collection of the Napoleonic Museum of Havana. So to open the presentations Luke Dalla Bona interviewed Natalia Bolivar, the founder and first director of the museum. It was a fascinating conversation and unique in the history of INS Congresses. Following that, the current director, Sadys Sánchez Aguilar made a presentation, which was followed by other presentations about the museum by Lourdes Morales Frías and Lizandra Carvajal García.


Luke Dalla Bona and Natalia Bolivar


After lunch, we heard very interesting presentations by Alan Forrest of the UK, Tadeusz Klupczyski of Poland and Edna Markham of Canada. Later we heard from Dmitri Prieto Samsónov and Jenny Cruz Cabrera from Havana, Dr. Patrick Puigmal of Chile and René Villaby Zaldivar of the University of Havana.


Alan Forrest


Edna Markham


Monday evening was one of the high points of the Congress. Ambassador Mendelson was kind enough to host a reception at his lovely home. He started the evening by welcoming the INS participants and other guests, and then made the formal presentation that made INS President Markham a Knight in the Order of the French Academic Palms, France’s highest and oldest non-military award, founded by Napoleon in 1808. The audience included ambassadors from the European Union, Germany and the Netherlands. President Markham made some acceptance remarks [read them here] and then presented Ambassador Mendelson with the INS gold medal of the Medaille d'Honneur.

Ambassador Mendelson welcomes
President Markham to the Monday reception


The French Ambassador, Jean Mendelson presents
to David Markham the French Academic Palms


The French Ambassador, Jean Mendelson presents
to David Markham the French Academic Palms


David Markham reading his speech after receiving his
decoration from the French Ambassador Jean Mendelson


President Markham presents the INS Medal of
Honor to the French Ambassador Jean Mendelson


President Markham and European Union
Ambassador Herman Portocarero


Reception at Ambassador Mendelson’s home


Michael Connors at left, Glenda Pérez López in
the middle and Sadys Sanchez at right


The Ambassador from the Netherlands and his wife,
Ambassador Mendelson, Edna and David Markham


Luke Dalla Bona, Ambassador Mendelson
and Alicia Galarza


Tuesday’s sessions featured very interesting presentations throughout the day. We heard from Karolina Stefanski of Germany, Alex Grabb of the USA, Yanet Oviedo Matos of Cuba, Margaret Crosby-Arnold of the USA, Johan Joor of the Netherlands and Benito Albisa Nova of Cuba. After lunch presentations continued with Leonor Amaro Cano of Cuba, John Stanley of Canada, Katia Figueredo Cabrera of Cuba, and José Pardo de Santayana y Gômez de Olea of Spain (who is the Military Attaché from Spain to Cuba).


Karolina Stefanski leads off the Tuesday program


Alex Grab


Margaret Crosby-Arnold


During the day, President Markham went to the home of Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, the historian of Havana where, with Ambassador Mendelson attending, he presented the gold medal of the INS Medaille d’Honneur.

President Markham, Historiador de la Cuidad de Habana
Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler and French Ambassador
Jean Mendelson after the gold medal presentation


In the evening we attended a special reception hosted by the Napoleon Museum. In the welcoming ceremonies, President Markham gave the INS gold medal of the Medaille d'Honneur to Sadys Sánchez Aguilar and Luke Dalla Bona.


President Markham and Sadys Sánchez Aguilar
after she receives her gold medal


Luke Dalla Bona and President Markham
after he received his gold medal


Participants enjoy the reception at the
Napoleon Museum Tuesday evening


From left to right: Lesbia Méndez Directora de la Dirección de
Patrimonio Cultural de la Oficina del Historiador de La Habana (OHC)
Margarita Suárez Directora de Museos de la Dirección de
Patrimonio Cultural de la Oficina del Historiador de La Habana Oficina del Historiador
Armando Gordillo Director de Mantenimiento
constructivo de la Dirección de Patrimonio Cultural de la OHC
Sadys Sánchez Directora del Museo Napoleónico de la Habana.
Juan Carlos Bermejo Restaurador y jefe del departamento del
taller de Restauracion de Pintura de Caballete de la OHC,
(además fue el que restauró la colección de pinturas del Museo Napoleónico).
Y a la deretcha, Edna Markham y David Markham, el presidente de la SNI.


Johan Joor, Tami Sarfatti and Alan Forrest
enjoy the reception near trees
that came from St Helena


President Markham examines the Napoleon
death mask during the tour of the museum


Wednesday continued our program with excellent presentations by Adriana Hernández Gómez de Molina of Cuba, Betje Black Klier of the USA, Glenda Pérez López of Cuba, Irina Recio Salles of the Napoleon Museum, Adiana Winter La Rosa of the Napoleon Museum and the artist Pavel Valdes, also of Cuba. After the presentations, we took a private tour of the Napoleon Museum.


Betje Black Klier on Wednesday


Wednesday evening, some participants were invited to a special reception and meal in the home of José Pardo de Santayana y Gômez de Olea of Spain, Military Attaché from Spain to Cuba.


President Markham and José Pardo de Santayana y
Gómez de Olea at the Wednesday reception


José Pardo de Santayana with Gómez de Olea,
Alice Aoluckiewicz-Tysnicka
and Tadeusz Klupczynski


Thursday was the final day of the formal presentations but there was no letup in quality. We heard from Rowayda Guirguis of Canada, Tami Sarfatti of Israel, Allon Klebanoff of Israel, Ron Soffer of France, Michael Connors of the USA and Ernesto Alvarex Blanco of Cuba. The final presentation was by Silvia Marina Guana of Cuba who presented a segment of a documentary she is making.


Rowayda Guirguis begins the Thursday program


Tami Sarfatti


Ernesto Alvarex Blanco of Cuba



Michael Connors


Allon Klebanoff


Ron Soffer


Luke Dalla Bona makes closing remarks


President David Markham declares
the Congress to be a great success

The presentations were followed by closing remarks by Luke Dalla Bona, President Markham and Sadys Sánchez Aguilar.

Sadys Sánchez Aguilar agrees


Here is the link for the closure article (in Spanish) regarding the congress and a summery of the event :


President Markham is interviewed by
Cuban radio after the concert

Ernesto Alvarex Blanco the Historian of Cuba at right with his
wife at Madalena at left and Rowayda Guirguis
in the middle

Later, we were treated to a very special musical performance provided by the office of the historian of Havana and then the traditional Gala Dinner.


The group poses after the Thursday concert


Gala Dinner


Allon Klebanoff and David Markham after
the gold medal presentation


Gala Dinner


Gala Dinner


Ambassador Mendelson and President Markham toast
the success of the Congress and to their friendship

Friday featured an outstanding historical tour of Colonial Havana.

Friends enjoy the Colonial Havana tour


David Markham, Amy King and Ron Soffer have
one last toast to their friendship


This Congress goes down as one of the very best ever. Of very special note was the large number of participants from Cuba, which added a great deal to the international flair of the Congress.

Next year’s Congress will be in Brussels, Belgium, and we hope to see many of you there as we commemorate the fateful year of 1815.



For more photos, click on this link :