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casualty of calle habana

This guy kind of scared me. I was shooting on Calle Industria. My focus was on the colonial buildings & yellow bus in the background. Watching through the lens for interesting traffic to pass through the frame........bicycles, vintage cars, people, etal. Without warning this fellow suddenly lurched in front of the lens, out of nowhere. Finger clicked reflexively & I got this one shot. Now my attention was on him & yes, he scared me. He seemed to be mentally disturbed but then again, could be he was just mad with the desperation of life in Havana. Or possibly he was inebriated or on drugs. But his volatility seemed palpable & momentarily I didn't feel safe so I backed away from him quickly. For a split second , he gave me a look that told me my reaction had wounded him, then wandered off as docile as a puppy. Had I encountered this man on Toronto's streets, almost certainly he would be homeless. Homelessness is not the norm on the streets of Havana, the state assigns "somehere" for everyone to live.......though I was told by one young man that it is totally at the state's discretion and there is never any guarantee of permanency. Told to leave, you leave. With no say in the matter. Could be they want the space to house some soldiers or because you are being punished for some infraction against the state. You do as you are told or risk imprisonment. The young man, Jona, had been told to change location 3 times in the past 2 weeks, each time being moved into a space already occupied by others that he did not know. Forced sharing, I suppose one would have to call it. A large percentage of housing in Habana Vieja, Centro & Vedado is crumbling, in utter disrepair , many with no running water. I'm not arguing that no home is better than a derelict home, in making reference to TO's homeless, but Havana's dire housing conditons come with a dire shortage of human rights also. This, surely, could drive anyone to roam the streets in mad sad despair.

The island is a prison. And its dictatorial guards count on fear & despair to keep order.

Embargo or not, as long as the communist party rules, there will be no freedom for the people of Cuba. "Democracy is coming" sings Leonard Cohen. Long overdue in Cuba !.


Democracy / Leonard Cohen official video


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Taken on February 4, 2009