Viva Cuba Libre

The revolutionary olive greens are gone. So are the beards. The exotic nightclubs frequented by the mob and Frankie S. have long disappeared, along with jobs, medicines, 1950s’ car parts, and a spirit of hope. Che’s colorful billboards exhorting Victorias remain. Rollers of Romeo y Julietas and Cohibas can also be found. But these cigar makers look tired, worn out, a vestige of the past, much like the crumbling buildings in UNESCO-protected Havana. Now even Hemingway’s ghost is missing. Isolated from the rest of the world, suffering from the long United States embargo, the mythic rum and sugar Cuba, its intoxicating libre spirit has vanished. Courage, the will to overcome, even without medicines, food, pesos, and freedom has survived. That becomes clear in the storytelling book, Vanishing Cuba. Immersing himself in Cuban life for the last seven years, photographer Michael Chinnici reveals through his poignant images “the people have this strength, a fortitude…you can easily fall in love with their resilience and the island.” Capturing all facets of Cuban life from dire poverty to upper-class elite privileges, he visually documents “authenticity, the beauty that is everywhere. I love documenting and learning. I am in search of emotion.”Startling at times, yet always insightful, Chinnici’s Vanishing Cuba is life beyond the surface. Free and unvarnished.

© Michael Chinnici

 Waiting for the Barber

A Havana barbershop promises fateful beginnings, a reset and renewal. It hardly matters that surroundings are dank and dingy, overrun by Cuba’s past and its false promises. Once Jorge arrives with his scissors, and exclaims, “who’s next?,” these young men will start chatting about senoritas, their prowess, and what hopefully lies ahead. “Jorge,” they will demand, “ be careful…don’t mess with my sideburns.”
                                                        © Michael Chinnici
Watermelon Man
Fabled “Cuban Queens”  are far more than an afternoon fling with radiantly bright red deliciousness. A homegrown delight in Vinales, tasting of “mi casa, sua casa,” watermelons are a flavorful bite of the past, a sign that Cuban hospitality lives on. That it is impervious to the harsh winds of post-revolutionary change.
                                                        © Michael Chinnici
Nice To Meet You
Curiosity is limitless, unfettered by stone walls. It barely matters that Cuba is a land of informers, a land where neighbors spy on each other, and turn into government informers.The will to be free is never easily extinguished. Certainly not by any decaying steel barriers.
                                                     © Michael Chinnici
Taxi Driver
Drive all day…drive all night. The wheel turns, life goes on, passing through Miramar, Cayo Hueso, Guanbo…all through Havana. It’s not easy only making a few los verdes, some dolores. But I listen…talk about “wives, girlfriends, sex..” Then I drive, often to a street of no return called “Desire.”
                                                      © Michael Chinnici
The Bread Lady
Worn down, but still resilient enough to make her specialties, the aging woman will soon hop on her 30-year-old bicycle and start shouting, “Pan, Pan, Pan.”Her voice will echo off those peeling walls, and customers in this crumbling Trinidad neighborhood will fetch their daily bread. That might seem all-too humdrum. But don’t be mistaken. That’s strength. She continues to ride.
                                                    © Michael Chinnici
Cuban Repair Shop
Time, its passing, is merciless in Cuba. Nothing escapes its ravages. Certainly not old men, or cars barely able to survive another grease job. Here everyone has the time to repair to the past, to think of that era when hope was possible. That never happened. So Time keeps moving, unlike flaming red wheels from another Time.
                                                         © Michael Chinnici
The Roadmasters with Fireball power kept whizzing by. The flashing marquee lights were equally dazzling, whirring with the magic of Marilyn Monroe, Brando and Bardot. Life was a hypnotic blurrrrrr back then, lightning fast and electrically-charged… America was the only place to be.
                                                      © Michael Chinnici
A Room with a View
Wondering what happened to the Dream, a Semana filled with hope of a better life, the ballerina sees only a barren landscape ahead. She has known glittering stages in Moscow, Shanghai , and Buenos Aires. Now it’s only a bedroom reminiscent of fine vanities, graceful moves before large crowds, and the richness of pre-revolutionary glories. She sits, fantasizes, still hearing the applause.
                                                      © Michael Chinnici
The Man, the Cross, and the Shadow

Now that so many shadows loom overhead, it is difficult to predict if Cuba will head towards a promising future, or will remain mired in darkness. Many Cubans, their heads bowed, fear the worst is yet to come. They have borne many weighty crosses. But that sunshine still radiates…there may yet be a path to salvation.

Written By Edward Kiersh


Website Instagram:


Website: Instagram:


Website Instagram

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top