The Women of Havana


Fotorreportaje por Ernesto Gonzalez Diaz

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban women have the deserved reputation of being beautiful. Today, we bring you a series of photos of teenage, young and not-so-young women from Havana. Walking down Old Havana’s Obispo street, waiting for a bus, reading in the shade afforded by a tree, going for a stroll with their children or quite simply chatting with friends, all of them – white, mulatto or black – are beautiful, tender and delicate, regardless of their age, skin color or social status.

These are common, daily scenes in our city. No photo was staged, no one posed and I do not know the names of any of my “models.” They are quite simple beautiful women I captured with my camera, in passing.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.

19 thoughts on “The Women of Havana

  • OK, so you gave a talk to a bunch of people who don’t know Cuba? Well, of course, they don’t care about politics! Most free people don’t. Yes, I do agree that I am rather unique. Thank you.

  • Moses, wrong again. I would estimate that 98% of the people were not Cuban or had no connection to Cuba. They only had an interest in Cuban people and culture, not Cuban politics.

    You seem to be unique in your view that anything having to do with Cuba, Cuban people, or Cuban culture is nothing more than a springboard into a discussion of internal Cuban politics. Classic example is this thread where you interpreted a photo essay of Cuban women as only another opportunity to express your political views.

  • Bob, does that surprise you? Once Cubans escape Castro tyranny, the last thing they want to do is be reminded of their worst memories. The Castros have, as I mentioned in my earlier comment, affected ALL aspects of Cuban life.

  • Moses, only one of these was in Cuba. I would not have expected anything political there.

    But the other eight were in the US. Everyone at all of those was interested in Cuban people and culture but not politics.

  • Not so odd at all. Cubans don’t feel comfortable discussing anti-government views in public.

  • Well said.

  • Actually Bob I agree with both you and Moses. Day by day most Cubans appear to act normally (in our terms). But Moses is correct when he says that you (and I) can leave when we like. We are not subject to the restrictions imposed upon Cubans, although I know I am within the records of the CDR, being married to a Cuban.
    Cubans are understandably careful about mention of politics, the eyes and ears of the CDR being an ever present threat.
    I only discuss politics when in Cuba where I spend most of my time, on a one to one basis. That hopelessness to which you both referred is in my view there in the majority of Cubans, but is so ingrained that they don’t frequently express it – because doing so is hopeless!

  • Most folks in Cuba are on a diet – rations!
    Obesity of the type seen daily in Canada and the US is a rarity.

  • OK Moses, you are right. Any photos of Cuban women deserve a political discussion.

    Oddly, in none of the nine talks I have done about Cuban people and culture as part of my photo exhibits has anyone wanted to discuss politics.

  • I urge you to read my comments carefully. I wrote that Cubans are amazing adaptable. They are far from hopeless. I also wrote that their reality is hopeless. African slaves in the 19th century knew that they would be slaves all their lives. Their reality was hopeless. Yes, these slaves, my forbears, still managed to smile, love, and even sing. Your Cubana is, I am sure, quite happy. Good job and a foreign boyfriend. For a Cuban in Holguin, she hit the jackpot. But if she wanted to do or have something that the Castros do not permit, sitting around wishing for it is a waste of time. Do you understand the difference?

  • Moses, you will have to trust me that I full well understand the fact that I have money and a return ticket colors how I personally react to the Cuban government. Yet, I do feel that I am close enough to some Cuban people to objectively view their personal opinions. I do not see the hopelessness that you refer to in most. And, I do live an everyday existence as most Cubans do in spite of my personal financial resources.

    detail: I live with a Cubana in Cueto, Holguin who very well could be one of the women in these photos. She is a director in the Ministry of Culture, has two children, and takes home 495 CUP a month. She loves her situation and is far from hopeless. I know all the neighbors and many of the people in town. I certainly would not call them hopeless.

    I realize your wife once lived in Cuba. But I have to say that the Cubans I currently live with are far from hopeless. True, they do wish they had more money but that is true of almost everyone I know in the US as well.

  • Some Cuban women need to go on a diet – Si !!!

  • I never wrote or implied that every Cuban lives in misery. On the contrary, Cubans have managed to amazingly adapt. The fact that you arrive in Cuba for your visit with your own money and can leave anytime blinds you to the harshest reality that Cubans face. That is the reality of hopelessness. The Castros have had an impact on EVERY aspect of Cuban life. That’s not to say every aspect of Cuban life is misery.

  • Moses, step back, relax, reread my comment and think about your response.

    I now spend about 25% of my time living in Cuba. I certainly am no Fidelista and see all the problems. I live some of them. But your portrayal that the lives of every Cuban is total 24/7 misery because of the Castros is quite different from my experience on the ground. FWIW, I am not escaping a frigid winter but often leaving a quite nice air conditioned home in Florida during the summer to enjoy Cuba.

  • Yes, it is sad that the Castros have had that kind of effort on every aspect of Cuban life.

  • It is sad when comments about a simple photo essay celebrating the beauty of everyday Cuban women are totally political.

    Ernesto Gonzalez Diaz: I certainly enjoyed your photo series. You expressed your point very well.

  • “Beggar nation” is a term, albeit archaic, used first by the UN to describe those countries whose GDP is insufficient to meet the food and shelter needs of that country. The US embargo has in arguably contributed to Cuba’s economic woes but is by no means the primary cause.

  • If Cuba is a “beggar” nation, Moses, I wonder if the U. S. embargo has played a role? The embargo was instituted in 1962 for the stated purpose, according to declassified U. S. documents, of depriving and starving the Cubans on the island for the purpose of enticing them to rise up and overthrow Fidel Castro, who is now 89 and still not overthrown. To appease a handful of revengeful Batistiano exiles, the embargo — the longest and cruelest in history mandated by a strong nation against a weaker one — remains in effect to this day. Now, Moses, dispute all that and then propagandize us with rhetoric about how the 1959 overthrow of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba really boosted the image of the U. S. democracy, especially after the Batista-Mafia leaders quickly set up shop on U. S. soil with an eternal Cuban government-in-exile.

  • Castros’ revolution was the best and worst thing to happen to Cuban women. Castro, despite his failed Marxist ideology, brought better workplace equality to the government employment. In doing so, social equality for women also improved. Castro, however, destroyed the already lopsided Cuban economy. As a beggar nation, many Cuban women saw no better choice than to become prostitutes and con artists. Castro’s socialist economy made nearly everyone poor. Women doctors, engineers, lawyers and other well-educated professionals in Cuba were just as likely to sell their dignity to make ends meet as any other Cuban women. When freedom finally comes to Cuba, hopefully sooner rather than later, Cuban women will also stand to benefit the most.

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