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20 Photos That Document The History, Vibrant Past, And Uncertain Future Of Cuba

It doesn’t take a photo to fall in love with the rich culture and historical background the island and country of Cuba has to offer. These photos of the country, however, will give you insight into its complicated history, passionate people, and uncertain future.

Martí y María Mantilla


Beloved Cuban poet, essayist and professor, José Julián Martí Perez became a symbol of Cuban’s bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century. Amongst Cubans he is considered the “Apostle of Cuban Independence.” In the photo above, Martí is pictured with his daughter María Mantilla, daughter of Carmen Miyares de Mantilla, a Venezuelan who ran a boarding house in New York.

Celia Cruz Cuba circa 1950s.


The Afro-Cubana sings with Ester Borja and Isidro Camara.

Babies flee Cuba

George Barilla / Pinterest.com

Operation Peter Pan (or Operación Pedro Pan) was a mass exodus of over 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors to the United States between 1960 and 1962. Father Bryan O. Walsh of the Catholic Welfare Bureau created the program to provide air transportation to the United States for Cuban children. It operated without publicity out of fear that it would be viewed as an anti-Castro political enterprise.

Fidel Castro in Hemingway Museum

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba- November 11, 2002. An old manual typewriter sits in Finca de Vigia, the villa where author Ernest Hemingway lived from 1939-1960. Cuban President Fidel Castro and an American group led by U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) signed an agreement to collaborate on the restoration and preservation of 2,000 letters, 3,000 personal photographs and some draft fragments of novels and stories that were kept in the humid basement of the villa.

Maria Colon

Tony Duffy/Allsport


July 1980. Olympic Champion Maria Colon of Cuba throws the javelin at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, USA.

Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine

hollywoodreporter.com / Pinterest

Backed by Miami Sound Machine, Cuban singer Gloria Estefan does the conga during the 1988 AMAs.

1991 International Basball All-Star Game

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


Los Angeles – August 24 1991: Cuban baseball player Omar Luis steps up to bat during the International Baseball All-Star Game on August 24, 1991 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

Boxing Legends

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Liaison

January 1996. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali (left) playfully spars with beloved Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson, a 3-time Olympic gold medalist in the Roberto Balado boxing gym in Havana, Cuba. Ali toured the island as part of a mission to bring aid to Cuban hospitals.

Federal agents seized Elián González.

bruce_wayne11/ Instagram

April 2000. Cuban citizen Elián González is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, in Miami as Federal agent Jim Goldman retrieves him from his relatives home. Elián was returned to his father’s custody four hours after the raid but only returned to the U.S. seven months and one week after he left Cuba.

Concierto Para Los Heroes Benefit

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


September 14, 2001. Celia Cruz perfoms at the ‘Concierto Para Los Heroes’ benefit sponsored by The Recording Academy at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca. The benefit was given for the families of fallen firefighters and police officers of New York City of the September 11 attacks.

Jimmy Carter Visits Cuba

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba- May 12, 2002. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalin Carter tour the Center of Old with Havana City historian Eusebio Leal (L). Carter is on a six-day visit to Cuba and is the first American president to visit the communist island since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

Cubans Manage Despite 40-Year U.S. Embargo

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Pinar Del Rio, Cuba- October 5, 2002. A person holds out a food rations card October 5, 2002 in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. The “supplies booklet” or “rations booklet” as Cubans call it has come to symbolize the failure of Cuba’s agricultural sector and the communist government’s stubborn demand for an egalitarian subsidy for each one of its 11 million people. Cubans play less than $2 for the items they receive under the ration card whose supply only lasts up to 20 days out of each month.

With the booklet, each Cuban is meant to receive a monthly ration of seven lbs of rice, half a bottle of cooking oil, one sandwich-sized piece of bread per day, a certain ammount of eggs, beans, chicken or fish, spaghetti, white and brown sugar and cooking gas.

Children get one liter of milk and yogurt while diabetics get special booklets for their diets. For those celebrating special occasions, there are also rations— cakes for birthdays, rum and beer for weddings. Students also recieve rations for uniforms, pencils, and notebooks for the start of the school year. Soap, toothpaste, salt, and liquid detergent have been cut from the rations for years.

Cuba Holds First Cuban Olympic Games

(Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba – November 29, 2002. A Cuban athlete performs the high jump during the first Cuban Olympic games at the Panamericano Stadium in Havana, Cuba. The 11th Pan American Games were held in Havana.

Celia Cruz’s Funeral

(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

New York – July 22, 2003. Fans of Celia Cruz attend a public ceremony held in her honor at Woodlawn Cemetery after her death and before the casket was taken for a private burial July 22, 2003 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

Cubans Try To Defect In 1951 Chevy Truck

Photo by Gregory Ewald/ U.S. Coast Guard/ Getty Images


AT SEA – JULY 24, 2003. In this U.S. Coast Guard handout, Cuban migrants trying to reach the U.S. coast in Florida take a makeshift boat made out of a 1951 Chevrolet truck with a propeller driven off the drive shaft. After making it within 40 miles of Key West, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo returned the 12 Cuban migrants from the vessel back to Cuba.

Cuba Economy Struggles After Row With Europe

(Photo by Jorge Rey/Getty Images)


Havana- August 29, 2003. A woman sells newspapers in front of a market place. The island nation endures an extreme economic crisis in a dispute with the European Union, Cuba’s most important trade and investment partner as well as a major source for its tourism. The EU cut back on political contacts with Cuba in June 2003 after the mass arrest of 75 dissidents and the executions of three ferry hijackers trying to reach the U.S.

Cuba Celebrates Legacy Of Its Revolution

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Havana, Cuba December 2006. Fireworks explode over a el morro as a boat carries a sign that reads “Viva Fidel’ at midnight in honor of the dictator and the 50th-anniversary celebration of the forming of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Pope Benedict XVI Holds Mass in Plaza de la Revolución ‘José Martí’ Havanna

(Photo by L’Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images)

Havana, Cuba – March 29, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI holds Mass in Plaza de la Revolución ‘José Martí.

Gloria Estefan Receives The Golden Medals To The Merit In Fine Arts

(Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Madrid Spain- July 23, 2019. Singer Gloria Estefan receives the Golden Medal to the Merit in Fine Arts from Spanish Minister of Culture Jose Guirao at the Royal Theater.

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