Celia Cruz and other iconic Cuban artists have made their way to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. thanks to the brilliant work of photographer, Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte.
In a portrait series titled “Cuba Out of Cuba,” Duarte, in collaboration with Tico Torres, presents a portfolio of 18 limited edition photos acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for its permanent collection. This includes their iconic Celia Cruz photograph, “¡Yo soy de Cuba la voz – Guantanamera!”
As photographers who worked with “La Guarachera de Cuba” for 12 years, and even published a book titled “Presenting Celia Cruz,” they feel honored to feature their work and the best of Cuba’s culture in the renowned museum.
“For Latinos and Cubans specifically, Celia is a musical legend. For us, Celia was the light. A beacon. She was a wonderful person with amazing energy. You knew you were in the presence of an extraordinary human being. And a voice that not only moved you, but shook the entire room!,” Duarte expressed in an interview with Billboard.
Other Cuban artists featured in this epic portrait collection are Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Paquito D’Rivera, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, Arturo O’Farrill, Carlos “Patato” Valdés, Andy García, Cristina Saralegui, Carmen Herrera, Emilio Sanchez, Enrique Riverón, Luis Cruz Azaceta, José Bedia, Isabel, Toledo, Narciso Rodriguez, Adolfo Sardiña, Nilo Cruz, and Nena Goodman.
The “Cuba Out of Cuba” series, according to Duarte, began in 1994 “while commissioned for a shoot for Art & Antiques Magazine featuring Cuban artists that lived in the United States for many years as well as those that had recently arrived from Cuba.” The project then expanded to include artists, writers, actors, designers, and more.
“This project is very close to our hearts and is a documentation of the Cuba we knew and grew up in, which is the Cuba that is outside of Cuba.”
Check out more photos from the “Cuba Out of Cuba” series portrait, here.
Among the dilapidated buildings in Downtown Juárez lies Little Habana, a new restaurant emblazoned with Cuban flags, classic car art, and blasting reggaeton music providing the local growing community of Cuban asylum seekers a reminder of home.
NPR recently reported about the new eatery that owner Cristina Ibarra opened four months ago once she noticed the burgeoning Cuban community that’s developing in the area.
She ran a taco business for 20 years before opening up a place that’s meant to evoke home for the refugees.
“The Cubans leave their hotels and come to eat at the restaurant as if it were their own home,” Ibarra told NPR. “They stretch out, relax and talk. They share their experiences, their fears, their accomplishments … and that gives me tremendous satisfaction right now.”
The dishes are not interpretations but authentic recipes since all of her 14 employees are from the Caribbean island and advise her on menu items.
The menu includes traditional fare like ropa vieja, pork chunks in a tomato stew, and three different types of rice. Her efforts extend to the decor and interior as well with bright orange and yellow walls, art depicting a street scene in Cuba, and, naturally, the lone star amid the red, white, and blue of the Cuban flag hanging on the wall.
The restaurant opening occurred around the time of a new policy introduced by the Trump administration nicknamed “remain in Mexico” since it requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. Before the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, those seeking asylum could reside in the U.S. while they waited.
The number of Cubans at U.S. entry ports and categorized as “inadmissibles” by Customs and Border Protection continues to increase with more than 20,000 expected to seek entry this year.
In 2016 during the Obama administration, the U.S. deported 64 Cubans but in 2018, the Trump administration deported 463 and this year that number will increase to 560, the LA Times added.
“I just don’t see a solution to our situation,” González added. She now sells french fries at a stand in Ciudad Juárez making $10 a day, which barely pays for the guesthouse room that she shares with four Cuban male migrants, WSJ reports.
Though MPP affects all asylum seekers, Cubans have historically received better treatment as they were viewed as political refugees.
For decades, Cubans caught at sea would be forced to return but if they stepped foot on U.S. soil they could stay and seek permanent residence after a year and a day. Obama ended the policy, known as “wet foot, dry foot” – in January 2017 and Trump has not reinstated it.
Now the Trump administrations has banned U.S.-based cruise ships from traveling to Cuba, economically affected groups catering to tourists on the island, and he also imposed restrictions on sending money to the island.
While they wait for a decision on their case, economics continue to plague Cuban migrants who find work where they can in order to pay for whatever housing they can find in what’s considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
NPR spoke with Melba, 32, a waitress at Little Habana who arrived in April and told them that she’s found meaning in her work as she tends to fellow Cubans who, like her, eagerly await to find out if they’ll ever make it to the U.S.
She and her husband rent a hotel room for about $12 a day and she earns about $20 per day plus tips at the restaurant, NPR reports. This is in stark contrast to her life in Brazil, where she worked as a doctor for nearly a decade as part of a Cuban government exchange program, the LA Times reports. When she was asked what she’d say to Trump if she could, she told the publication, “In Cuba, there is no freedom like you live.”
As the Trump administration continues to make it harder for Cubans and fellow asylum seekers to gain admission to the U.S. and the economy on their island deteriorates, places like Little Habana provide not only a taste of home but a respite from the inhospitable treatment they otherwise receive outside the restaurant walls.
Diego Huerta is an Austin-based photographer on a mission to photograph all of the indigenous populations throughout Mexico. His photos are giving people an intimate and sincere look at the lives of the people who have long called Mexico their home. July is a special time in Oaxaca for the indigenous community. The month marks Guelaguetza, a month-long celebration in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca highlighting the indigenous people and their contributions to Mexican culture. In honor of Guelaguetza, here are photos by Huerta taken in Oaxaca showing the vibrant and mesmerizing indigenous community.
Photographer Diego Huerta is capturing the wonder and majesty of Mexico’s indigenous communities.
Huerta wants to give people a true sense of what indigenous communities look like. There is something about seeing the communities people talk about instead of just reading about them.
“Nowadays the information that we have about the native peoples in Mexico is only numbers and statistics,” Huerta told mitú. “There’s no photographic documentation of each of the towns, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know how they live, we don’t know how they look.”
Huerta earns the trust of the communities and gets intimate photos that show the beauty within these communities.
Huerta doesn’t just walk into these spaces with his camera snapping. The photographer makes his presence and intentions known to earn their trust and the chance to document their existence.
“Whenever I come to an indigenous village, the first thing I do is talk to people, be interested in knowing how they live, be simply a human talking with another human,” Huerta says. “Then I tell them what I do and I ask them to be able to portray them, which in most cases they say yes.”
Huerta has spent years documenting Oaxaca and absorbing the culture in the southern Mexican state.
“I have spent six years traveling through Oaxaca, and every year people knew my work more, which made things easier for me because it was the same people who invited me to their villages to portray them,” Huerta says.
As someone who has experienced the incredible celebration of Guelaguetza, Huerta has one thing to say.
Guelaguetza is more than a celebration tied to a specific time of year.
“To live the Guelaguetza is to start living,” Huerta proclaims.” There are so many emotions to see the eight regions of the State of Oaxaca gathered in the same place that you don’t need to be Mexican to get excited, it’s simply a wonderful and unique world that’s lived there.”
It is crucial to document and capture images of the indigenous communities for several reasons.
Huerta believes that there is value in capturing proof of the indigenous communities to preserve our own history. These are the people who lived on these lands first and are therefore the basis for the people now inhabiting the land.
He wants to make sure that everyone who sees his images understands the greatness of human beings.
Huerta explains that getting people to see the greatness of human beings is the main objective of his indigenous photo series. By understanding the greatness of people and the indigenous communities, Huerta says that will lead to us understanding ourselves.
Huerta’s work within Mexico’s indigenous communities has endeared him to the very people he set out to document.
“On my last trip to the State of Sonora with the Yaqui people, I felt that I was already part of them,” Huerta recalls. “It was difficult to be accepted but after three years they saw me as someone they trusted and that made me feel very special.”