Waiting for the revolution
Cuba is an anomaly for economists, politicians and intellectuals as some observations fall foul to reason. The country enjoys a health care system that is among the best for industrialized countries as measured by parameters such as infant mortality under the age of 5 and life expectancy. This is contrary to common sense as Cuba economically does not have the same economic power to invest in health as other more developed countries, and they continuously suffer from a shortage of essential health related goods such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and intravenous saline. In addition, Cuba also has the highest literacy rates in the world because of the strength of their public school systems edging most countries out in UNICEF ranking with its 100% literacy rate. This is despite the fact that it doesn’t invest as much as other countries and the decaying infrastructure that plagues many of its public buildings. Another example is the repression of free speech institutionalized by the government, which at the same time has not silenced voices of intellectuals such as Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo or Yoani Sánchez. They have been able to use the internet via blogging to express their scathing critiques of the government, and although they have faced some backlash from the government, they still are expressing their opinions freely. Couple these internet bloggers with voices sympathetic of the ruling government such Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanés, whom also talk about their frustrations with the Castro regime, and we see that there is a clear resentment towards the government and its vile practices. However, they all live imprisoned with their words, which have no reverberation in the ears of those responsible for improving the deplorable situation of the country.
This series of photos will not elaborate on these problems but rather aims to capture many frustrations Cubans have as they await for the changes the revolution had promised. Because Cuba for me– and many Latin Americans– is a pilgrimage of sorts that at one point represented our most hopeful desires for our burgeoning American republics; sadly, we realized that it came at the cost of autonomy and personal development. Hence, I wanted to demystify Cuba and personally deconstruct what the revolution meant in the Cuban psyche as they realize that their initial expectations are impossible to fulfill. They are now settling for an incognito “something” that they hope will auger drastic changes to the island. This “something” I interpret as the refreshing breeze that emanates from the brief meeting between the imagination and the boundless possibilities for the future: a future without Fidel, Raúl or Granma dogmatically inculcating what to believe; a world with free access to goods, information and the internet; the dismal possibility of a Cuban Perestroika; dealing with absolute poverty without any government support or subsidies; but above all, reclaiming one’s destiny and recovering the autonomy many Cubans have lost after decades of mistreatment and abuse. Until then, many Cubans live a difficult reality knowing that today, tomorrow and the next day, there really is no incentive to continue struggling. They live the present as best they can. It is this reality that I try to capture. Because despite all their difficulties, impossible for us imagine, Cubans have a “joie de vivre” incommensurable with their reality, looking ahead at the future with reticence but always with a smile in their soul.