The reality of Cuba in the new millennium is very complex and not easy to tell. Without doubt, it is far from being the utopic Caribbean Island of dreams sold by many travel agencies. Many thought that the revolution would bring people closer to freedom but on the contrary, even after the rise to power of Raul Castro, when it seemed the Island would be more open to the outer world, Cuba still remains structured as a primitive capitalism under a rigid regime where individual freedom is violated every day by the inflexible rules of the system. The younger generations are seduced and deceived by the new technology and western forms of life slowly coming in, but all of these “goods” entering the country are way out of reach for most and only the most affluent part of the society or the political class can have access to it. So the frustration grows, hand in hand with desire.
In this portfolio I have tried to select stories of everyday life that are examples of the contradictions of the island. The search begins with the story of Gustavo from Viñales, producer of habano cigars that introduces me to his life and profession through the images found in his home address.
I was very thankful to encounter and interview Oris Zaldivar, who was the Armero of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and had a series of very interesting stories and anecdotes to share from those historic pre revolutionary days.
El “Poeta Solitario”, I include in a diptych next to the picture of a palm tree that stands on it’s own. Recently having been affected by a typhoon, this palm tree resonates with the life style of the “Solitary Poet” who enjoyed spending time on his own, hence his nickname.
The journey continues with the surreal encounter with Tony from Baracoa, the doctor of “soft energy” that attends his patients in the laboratory of his home using alternative forms of healing. Also in Baracoa, I meet Ms. Blanca who presents her house located in the area where the Cubans had built a subterranean base, a hideout in case of a U.S. attack.
This project is presented in the form of Diptych. The first section of this project contains focuses more on portraits while the second section selects scenes from daily life. A few images but all very representative that reflects contradictions present in today’s Cuban society. Association of the past with the present, politicians in power and people manifesting in the street, exclusive resorts or parking spots reserved only for tourists, dreams, desire for material goods and sports as a mean of distraction and entertainment.