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¡CUBA VIVA! African Diaspora Art Caribbean Cuba Latin America Photography

¡CUBA VIVA! — Retratos

My first love, the island of my childhood. In 2009, I walked over 100 miles during the course of three weeks in Havana. I walked everywhere, spoke to strangers, sat around for hours in places waiting for the sunset, adults, children, animals. These are portraits of a life that could have been.

-Hemley González


Alo by Hemley Gonzalez
“Call your grandma, your wife, your boyfriend, your butcher. Make that connection! Your next plate of food depends on it!”

 

"Here, a candid moment where a girl was resting and someone said something funny, she laughed hysterically, propped against a wall with old bullet holes; an assassination of her problems if you will."
“Here, a candid moment where a girl was resting and someone said something funny, she laughed hysterically, propped against a wall with old bullet holes; an assassination of her problems if you will.”

 

Malecon by Hamley Gonzalez
The sun’s coming down and the explosion of the most beautiful colors begin to adorn the city before darkness blankets all.”

 

Merchant by Hemley Gonzalez
“A shop keeper makes eye contact with me, and his eyes convey a mixture of curiosity, compassion, and dignity. I have only seen this a few times in my life; and I was fortunate to catch this rare and originally humane moment.”

 

Edificio Bacardi by Hemley Gonzalez
The old Bacardi headquarters in Havana has been restored to its original glory. A mid rise, centrally located which stands as an anachronism in a sea of socialist propaganda. The company founded in the late 1800’s (like many others) fled the country when the revolution began to nationalize all private business.”

 

Trompetero frente del mar by Hemley Gonzalez
A lone trumpet player practices his craft in an abandoned stadium; what you can’t see in this picture is what he sees across from him, the vast and open space of the Atlantic Ocean, a visual diversion or torture. It is this ocean that separates him from a better life. And from where he sits, only his music brings him joy.”

 

Esperando by Hemley Gonzalez
“Waiting for something unimportant, standing by some doorway, this is how you found me, half clothed, full of hope, patient and curious; this is how you found me.”

 

Sacrilege by Hemley Gonzalez
“A group of children discovered a nearby floating offering to one of the many saints of the Afro-Cuban religion, Santeria. They usually contain food and other valuable items which are sent out to the sea from the person who badly wants their wish granted. This raiding is considered highly sacrilegious; interfering with the contents of the offering is said to mark a person’s life with negativity and despair.”

 

When all else fails by Hemley Gonzalez
“When all else fails…”

 

El futuro by Hemley Gonzalez
“Children come closer to each other, laughing, secretly plotting dreams in their own personal language, unfazed by the beauty of the fading light, with the city as their blank canvas.”

 

¡CUBA VIVA! is a three-part series focusing on life in our sister country to the south, Cuba.

By Hemley González

Originally from Havana, Cuba, Hemley González moved to Miami with his parents in 1989. He is the founder of Responsible Charity, a humanist charity organization providing education to children in slum communities and villages in India, and empowering women and men to overcome poverty. Find out more at ResponsibleCharity.org.