Cuba. (More precisely, Havana.) This island nation basks in its former glory and present, handmade society-of-the-people. Despite suffering caused by the longstanding stalemate with the US, loss of financial backing with the collapse of the USSR, and multiple natural catastrophes, they carry on. Excelling in areas such as health care and women’s rights, even as the goal of equality has in reality left many impoverished — Cuba now opens to incremental capitalism, largely in the form of small-scale entrepreneurship.
Women represent 53.2% of MPs in Cuba’s current parliament, second only to that of Rwanda globally. La Federación de Mujeres Cubanas was established in 1960 by the late Vilma Espin, former revolutionary and wife of Raul Castro, and works to ensure gender equality and improved health for all Cuban women. Holding its 10th Congress in March of this year, FMC has a present membership of more than 4 million — approximately 90% of all females in Cuba over 14 years of age.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano, one of Havana’s hottest art and nightlife venues, open since 2014 in a former factory. With multiple spaces for art exhibition, dining and drinking, performance and dancing, and a good mix of locals with visitors, its youth-led premise represents the new Cuba — and its hope for tomorrow.
Callejon de Hamel in Havana tells yet another of Cuba’s stories: that pd the Afro-Cuban community, in its art, music — and practice of Santería. This religious practice combines elements from the Yoruba people of West Africa, brought to the Caribbean region as slaves, with aspects of Catholicism as imported by the Spanish conquistadores. An animistic tradition for worship of a pantheon known collectively as ‘orisha’, it is deeply tied to nature, to Cuban culture — and, to a longing for homeland.