Cuba: Proud People, So Much Faded Glory

Photo Feature by
Rene Bastiaanssen*

HAVANA TIMES — In December 2010 I travelled for 2 weeks through a little part of Cuba. I wanted to see it, and photograph it before the Castro’s retired.

I walked for days in the streets of Havana, sometimes peeping into a door opening to find hidden treasures, often being proudly invited in to see the people’s homes and have a shot of rum or a cigar.

I was struck by seeing so much faded glory, waiting to get exploited again.

(*) Amatuer photographer from Holland. More of his photos can be seen here .

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14 thoughts on “Cuba: Proud People, So Much Faded Glory

  • Really… exploited. It is clear that
    you are not one that has family there. You are not one that has
    received letter like… your uncle has bone cancer and we are not
    given anything to relive the pain. Anything will help. Please can you
    send us anything anything at all. Or your aunt need surgery and we do
    not have the surgical basic thing to proforma the surgery. Could you
    send us the surgical needless and thread so that the can do the

    And don’t get me started and the food
    and shelter. Exploited. You have no idea of what you are talking
    about and the pain the people the has had to endure. None!

  • Beautiful photos… many scenes that I have seen… And to Moses… I will be polite… Though why do you not post some photos of inner-city Chicago and maybe Detroit to show the real decay that is the USA…

  • It can be argued that the poverty of Haiti or Guatemala and other so-caled Third World countries is also self-imposed by the policies of their governments, often dictatorships of one stripe or another. The differences are in the details of the destructive policies and the nature of the dictatorships.

  • Rene, the main difference between the poverty that you witnessed first hand in Cuba and the poverty you might have seen in Haiti or Guatemala and other so-called Third World countries is that Cuban poverty is self-imposed by the economic policies of the Castro dictatorship. Most Cubans are resigned to their conditions and resignation over time may seem like complacency but in the absence of choice…?

  • waiting to be exploited again says it all Moses.

  • Thanks.

  • Thanks! Yes, that’s exactly what I experienced as well. Their attitude of acceptance and doing the best that they could.

  • The people I met (behind all the doors….) didn’t show any suffering. Although I saw some very poor homes, the people where still proud enough to invite me in and show me around. They lived poor, but all looked healthy. And yes, I experienced some really suffering, more in e.g. Cienfuegos then in Havana. The fact that children were really fighting for my bag of toothbrushes, soap, pencils and books said enough. Even when my plastic bag was empty they fought for that plastic bag… (tsj…mostly because a big country prohibits the import of daily needs…one of the reasons people have to buy those daily needs with ration coupons)

  • I found Cuba one of the easiest to travel countries. Very safe, even walking at night with my camera through the streets of Havana without anytime feeling unsafe. Only one time got at shout from a kind of soldier when I was hanging with my camera longer then usual around the Plaza de la Revolución. So I experienced all freedom one could get.

  • You have an eye for beautiful photographs. You captured well the decay and sadness in Cuba. Heart breaking beauty.

  • Were you permitted to take these photos and visit these sites without any government officials nearby?

  • Beautiful photos. The problem with such beautifully captured street scenes is that they can obscure the suffering behind the photo. Romanticizing buildings on the verge of collapse does nothing to preserve the lives that will be lost when that building crumbles upon its residents in the middle of the night. So many well-meaning tourists come to Cuba, cameras and videos in hand, to capture this lost paradise in a way reminiscent of those who go to zoos to see near extinct animals. Still, beautiful photos.

  • Excellent photos. One of the amazing things that I experienced was the Cubans’ hospitality. They were very open to showing us the way that they lived and often how humble their homes were. There was no embarrassment or shame. It was more like we’re doing the best that we can under the circumstances.

  • Beautiful, raw pictures.

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