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Communism in Cuba: Not How It Was Intended to Be

Photographing the streets of Cuba can bring two different sides of a coin
A few blocks from the Havana Capitol. (Photo by Hugo Pech)

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, my love for photography began with my love for aviation. I grew up in Mexico City and dreamed of one day flying airplanes. As a young adult, I found a different path to airplanes by learning how to repair them.

Over the years, as I traveled throughout the United States and abroad, visiting airplane museums, airports and factories, picture-taking was a way to permanently capture the history and magic of aviation. Over time, my interest has grown to other areas of photography including pets, landscapes, cities, and still life.

My heart will always belong to aviation, but I love capturing the joy and spirit of all people, places and things. 

One of the trips I always wanted to do was to go to Cuba, I was familiar with the Cuban culture because several great Cubans immigrated to Mexico during and after the 1959 Revolution. People like Celia Cruz, Olga Guillot, Benny More, Damaso Perez Prado among  sport legends like the famous boxer Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles. Love the cuban food and the music without forgetting the famous Mojitos Rum and, of course, cigars.

These photographs illustrate in a very small way how I see Cuba and what its future could be. Communism still exits but not how it was intended to be. You see the modern and beautiful buildings, but just a few blocks away you see the poverty and the lack of basic services like potable water, electricity, garbage recollection. The front of the Capitol looks clean and modern, but just a few blocks behind you see the real Cuba: dirty streets, old and decaying buildings were people still live.

Walking by one of the streets I saw what I thought was a grocery store, but my guide and good friend Rey informed me it was a center for food rations provided by the government. You see the wives, homemakers trying to obtain what little they can get in food supplies. On one of the walls was a photo of Fidel Castro and appears to be satisfied of what he did for the Cuban people, but unfortunately the Cuban people still struggles with no having their basic necessities covered. 

Passing by “El Paseo Del Prado” street I stopped to go across the street and when I turn to look out for traffic I was transported to the 1960’s because all the traffic were old cars that were from good to mint condition, using and fabricating parts that they cannot get or buy due to the U.S embargo imposed in 1962.

One of the positive things I saw during my visit was, the Cuban people, despite not having the resources to have a better life, were still happy and they showed it through their music and they are still very proud to be Cubans by expressing it with their Cuban flags posted in their homes.

The Cuban children are happy and they are the hope  someday could change the course of this beautiful island. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Cuban people—for their resilience to survive and press on despite obstacles and challenges that they face.

I really appreciate Rey Cruz and Yosel Vazquez’s I Love Cuba Photo Tours for taking me to places that were not part of the usual tourist visit in Cuba.

Editor’s note: Hugo Pech was a client of I Love Cuba Photo Tours in 2019

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