Cuba - Another Side




HAVANA (CUBA), 2009.  Although I went to Cuba to tell specific stories (education, medical, HIV/AIDS support, organic farming), I came away with a set of images that reflected an overarching story, one that didn't fit with a lot of photography I'd seen before going there. Havana seemed to operate over a background hum of sadness. There was vibrant colour, dancing, rum, music, cigars, lush tropical vistas and all sorts of expressions of Cuba's afrocubano heritage, such as the religion, Santeria.

But people didn't appear to be that happy. There weren't as many opportunities for young people as there might have been in much of the rest of the world. The decades-long trade embargo by the USA must have had a serious impact, despite Cuba still having trade relationships with other nations.

The older people I talked to reflected the state of Cuba as much as the rundown architecture. They said the revolution was exciting and right. But, the beauty of the ideals that drove the revolution had worn away like a plaster facade that had cracked and faded and broken apart, like the deeply lined faces of the people who had been there and celebrated when Che Guevara and Fidel and Raúl Castro brought La Revolución.

It was a shame, and a shock. The country seemed also to be full of promise and having much to offer. In a way, these are anti-Cuba photographs, in the sense that I'd not seen images like these of Cuba before I visited. I am, of course, pro-Cuba; I hope for a brighter future for the place and the people there.