“We have to wait and see,” “There isn’t a lot of talk about it,” are the responses from tobacco workers in this rural area in western Cuba when asked about the prospect of an opening of the U.S. market to Cuban cigars.
On the blue flame of her biogas stove, it takes half as long for rural doctor Arianna Toledo to heat bath water and cook dinner as it did four years ago, when she still used electric power or firewood.
When it rains, trucks get stuck in the mud on the poor roads in this rural municipality in eastern Cuba. The local population needs more and better roads to improve their lives and help give a much-needed boost to the country’s farming industry.
Most people in Cuba without toilets use the traditional outhouse. But an innovative, ecological alternative is catching on in remote rural communities.
The biggest discrepancies in the first meeting to normalise relations between Cuba and the United States, after more than half a century, were over the issue of human rights. But what stood out in the talks was a keen interest in forging ahead, in a process led by two women.
Cuba has met the United Nations goal of reducing hunger. But anemia caused by malnutrition is still a problem among infants, small children and pregnant women in this Caribbean island nation, which has been in the grip of an economic crisis for over two decades.
Up and down the streets of towns and cities in Cuba go horse-drawn carriages with black leather tops and large back wheels, alongside more simple carts, operating as public transportation.
Cafés, real estate agencies, taxis and other small privately-owned businesses and cooperatives in Cuba have brought new life to the depressed local economy and have given rise to pockets of prosperity in the country’s towns and cities.
Scattered houses amidst small fields of vegetables and other crops line the road to the La China farm on the outskirts of the Cuban capital. This is where Hortensia Martínez works – a mechanical engineer who has been called crazy by many for deciding to become a small farmer.
Tears, silence and evasive responses are the reactions from Cubans when they are asked about the “balseros” or rafters crisis; two decades after an exodus without parallel in Latin America, it remains a taboo subject in this Caribbean island nation.
Two men kiss each other while two women dance together without making other clients feel uncomfortable at the prívate club Humboldt 67, one of the venues seeking to cash in on an untapped market by fulfilling the unmet demand for bas, restaurants and other recreational spaces for the LGBTI community in the Cuban capital.
Although it might not seem to be, Latin America is the most active region in the world when it comes to the defence of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
All illusions of love, trust and dedication to a relationship flew out the window for Mayda Torres in 1992, when she found out she was HIV-positive while undergoing routine exams to start a new job.
Standing in line for a concert at the Centro Cultural Fábrica de Arte, a cultural centre in the Cuban capital, Alexis Cruz anxiously checks his billfold, where he has the price of the ticket – 50 Cuban pesos (two dollars) - and three CUCs (equivalent to one dollar each) to buy something to drink.
The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba’s new private sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna.