V. Between the old and the new

This article is part of the reportage: Cuba – Yesterday’s Papers

In the previous chapter’s closing picture, contrast was inherent in a building’s features. I like to think that the above one captures the tension between the old and the new by depicting this elder sitting still, facing the camera and the young, standing and walking away from it.

We can see the face of the old man clearly, with its spots and wrinkles – not unlike those on the wall he is leaning against, and its expression, somewhere between inquisitive and indifferent. We cannot see the faces of the youngsters as they are facing the opposite way. The signs of the past are still ubiquitously visible in today’s Cuba, and there is a sizeable population of elders whose lucid memory can trace events back to pre-revolution days.

By contrast, there is no shortage of young people who are after the latest Nike model, a flashy smartphone and a fashionable hair style. Living in Cuba puts a distance much greater than the Florida straits between them and the comforts and opportunities enjoyed in ‘Yankeelandia’, which, in turn, makes the latter all the more attractive.

In addition, intensive emigration has widened the gap between those who were too old and those who were too young to leave; until a few years ago it was unlawful to take children out of the country. There is a Cuba resembling the old man, bearing the tokens of all of its recent history’s mistakes, false starts, ‘what-might-have-been’s, and a Cuba whose traits are unknown, like those of the youngsters in the background. What will it look like when the young will have become the old? That is the question resounding in this picture.

Photo by Marco Crupi.

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