I took these photos in Havana, Cuba in the fall of 1994. I had never been to a socialist country before. With no Spanish, little knowledge of local history but lots of film, I used my camera as license to approach strangers and request something from them. I was unsettled by the generosity of their openness and by the intimacy they shared.
In this last bastion of socialism, there is an abundance of passion about every aspect of their lives: family, politics, music, religion. Life there is extremely hard, due in large measure to the US economic embargo. Despite the economic hardship they experience, I found a stubborn determination to guard their national independence, healthcare system and schools. I found strong family bonds that transcended politics and borders. I found a spirituality and sense of purpose.
In Havana, people appeared genuinely involved in and concerned about the welfare of their community despite the severity of the economic hardships. While the island is rich in human and natural resources, it lacks money for the simplest things - milk for children, basic medicines, even such mundane items as soap, pens and paper. But the people get by.
I went to Cuba because I am from Palestine - another pariah country to Washington.
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