Cuba – Living Under the Shadow – a Pictorial Story

Sunset Over Havana
The Child Who Could Be Someone
Man from Old Havana
One Amazing Place (30x68)
Sunset Over Havana

An American Perspective

This pictorial presents my story of an American’s first visit to Havana, Cuba. I cannot say it is a representative story for all first time visitors or that it is even a fair interpretation of life in Cuba; but it is my story. I went to Cuba and stayed in Old Havana most of the trip. I was escorted around by an official guide and was given the government sanctioned story about life in Cuba and the history of Cuba since the revolution. I went to Cuba with no preconceived ideas of what life was like there. The only ideas I brought with me were the pictures I had seen of old buildings and antique cars lining the streets. Beyond that, I expected to see a country locked in a time capsule of the 1950’s. What I experienced shaped a completely different story – the story of living under the shadow. This story is brought to life with bright light and silhouettes in my compositions.

An Oppressive Government

“Living Under the Shadow” really has two meanings. First, Cuba is a hot climate so people tend to find shade in the heat of the day and come out at night when the temperatures drop. But this is not the shadow I speak of. The Cuban people live under totalitarian rule by a dictator. They have lived under oppression since the late 1950’s when Fidel Castro drove the corrupt, right-wing authoritarian government of President Batista from power. Castro became an authoritarian dictator himself and installed a state-controlled communist economy. Castro’s government has severe punishment for any and all crimes which causes the people to live in complete fear of the government. For example, even a cattle farmer can not kill a cow for his own consumption – he must sell the livestock to the state and then buy his meat from the government store. Killing a cow or horse will result in a 30 year prison sentence. An entire generation has grown up where survival depends on submission to the state. The ominous rule of the Cuban Government is the shadow that shapes life in modern day Cuba. Living Under the Shadow is the story of life avoiding the eye and ire of the Cuban government.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Living Under the Shadow is a story about a culture that avoids attention, a people who blend into the daily comings and goings of the common man, and a lifestyle of subsistence provided by the government. Its a story of living in a crime-free, dis-utopian society where the price to pay is abject poverty. Its a story about people disappearing into the foreground. The story develops as people go about their daily life, hiding in plain sight, living under the shadow…

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