“Cubanos” is one of my latest photographic project.
I was in Cuba for a month, in August 2016, for Fidel Castro’s birthday. I wanted to realize a reportage about the event, which turned out to be somewhat historical since it was the last birthday of the Lider Maximo, but it quickly evolved as a broader project.
Los Cubanos, the Cubans, like all Caribbean people, are extremely proud of their roots, even the most recent ones, and despite the difficulties of recent decades (first of all the período especial) many still revere the homeland’s liberators, Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
And so I managed to witness a spontaneous celebration of Fidel’s birthday, in a nondescript street, with cake, rum and a neon light to illuminate an effigy of Fidel while at the same time I could meet the young artist Reinier Luaces Gonzales, convinced opponent of the regime through his art, or an old convict, fresh out of jail, claiming to have been wrongly accused and imprisoned for twenty years.
For many Cubans, however, the future is not about freedom of expression but about the lure of capitalism and the Western welfare’s promises that run fast on the waves of a wi-fi.
The city squares where once people played music and domino games begin to offer scenes that are quite ordinary in many other realities: two young lovers ignoring each other while deep in their phones’ screen while alongside, someone else is video-chatting with a expatriate relative.
Modernization, at this time still being discrete, seems able to accompany the local traditions and the nightly habits of the Cubans, accustomed to sit outside their house or hanging from the grates of their windows to cool off and share the day’s events.
A society in full progress, projected towards the US’ modernity but not fully conscious of what progress (real or perceived to be) often implies in terms of sacrifice of someone’s roots.