Cuba is immersed in and absorbed by the Revolution, but it isn’t exactly what you would call revolutionary.
In even the quickest and more cursory visit to the island, visitors become well acquainted with its crumbling infrastructure, both shockingly lovely and startlingly outdated. Nothing is new; from the buildings in Habana Vieja to the cars and streets it feels like the very opposite of what many would imagine a revolutionary nation to be.
Despite its obvious abuses over the past 50+ years, Cuba has a certain love for its revolution, now so ingrained in the culture that even the most anti-Castro struggle to untangle it from lo cubano. Everywhere you look you’ll see the images that carry the weight and omnipotence of the revolution for its citizens- from government billboards to ice cream parlors.
Here are some of my favorite photos that display the government’s use of imagery to support and remind citizens of the benefits and ever-presence of the Cuban Revolution…and this is just a small sampling. Imagery of the revolution is everywhere, just as the political, social, and economic effects of the revolution have touched every aspect of the lives of Cubans.
An agromercado in the 10 de Octubre neighborhood of Havana- a state-run market that sells fruits and vegetables. A Che Guevara portrait and quote in the back corner.
Camilo Cienfuegos- a Cuban revolutionary who fought alongside Fidel Castro and Che Guevara- keeps watch over the Plaza de la Revolución, and reminds citizens of his support for Fidel with the quote below his image.
The Habana Libre Hotel, in English the Free Havana Hotel. This hotel was formerly the Habana Hilton, until it was nationalized by the Cuban government after the revolution. Its name asserts that the Cuban Revolution- and nationalization of foreign entities- has made the country “free.”
A bakery [with the best sweets in the neighborhood, btw] in 10 de Octubre. A mural of Che Guevara against the Cuban flag decorates the side of the building.
“Long live the Revolution!” Revolution-positive street art near José’s family’s home in 10 de Octubre in Havana.
In English, “we will continue defending the Revolution.” Blank walls and billboards in Cuba often sport revolution- or government-positive slogans like this one.