Snapshot: 2003 – La Habana Cuba

cuba social documentary

Daniel P Perez confesses to not being a scholar on Cuba but in 2003 having studied the country intensely he travelled to Cuba as an undergraduate. A land that has seen over 50 years of continued US sanctions. His trip gave him an insight into medical treatment, education and lives for many youths growing up. These are his words and pictures.

cuba life 2003 Daniel P Perez

In Cuba, as in many other places, people do not tend to go to the hospital alone. Here, a young soldier explains to a doctor how he has been having stomach pains. The two other soldiers are his friends and are there for support.

As a result of the American blockade against Cuba, the island nation has had to rely on many forms of alternative medicine. Cuba has thus become a world leader in biomedical research. The doctor pictured here makes about $25 a month, lives with his mother, stepfather, and his aunt, in a home-made cinder block home. He rides his bicycle to Hospital Calixto García in Havana every day.

cuba life 2003 Daniel P Perez

I remember when I took this shot how odd it was. Cuban kids skateboarding next to an old building. The first thing I thought was “somebody in that group has family in the States.” Later, I thought the image reflected in my mind what represents the most important challenge facing Cuba then and today. It’s not the USA, it’s Cuban youth. How can Cuba captivate its youth amidst the daily struggles? These young people have no memory of the revolution, they have no memory of how life was under Batista.

cuba life 2003 Daniel P Perez

Here children gather in a classroom, during a graduation day ceremony, that was once a plush bedroom in a mansion prior to the 1959 revolution.

cuba life 2003 Daniel P Perez

In Cuba, as in many other places, people do not tend to go to the hospital alone. Here a mother looks on as her daughter is given a medical exam. I asked why nobody ever came in to the doctors office alone, and the doctor responded, “for support.”


Here young boys play baseball between two condemned buildings in Havana. At the time Havana was believed to be losing around 300 buildings per year due to age, scarcity of materials, lack of funding and shortage of skilled labour. There has been a national effort in Cuba to restore many of their historic buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century.


This is to me, is my most memorable photograph. I went to Cuba in 2003 as a student studying among other things, the Cuban education system. I visited this elementary school and met with students, teachers, and administrators, and I had the unique opportunity to witness an elementary school graduation ceremony. I stood on stage just as they started their national anthem. Afterwords, the school principle announced our presence (there were two of us there) by saying, “we have some visitors from a friendly country.” I will never forget my time there.

cuba photojournalism

Here school children gather around their teacher in order to have their school uniforms signed in celebration of their graduation from 6th grade. In Cuba many of the children will have the same teacher from grades K-6. As a result of this arrangement children and teachers become like family and the absenteeism rate is very low.


Here young people play a makeshift game of soccer in a plaza. Notice that two of the kids are sharing shin pads!

Words and pictures Daniel P Perez

The History of Cuba in 50 Events

Cuba: What Everyone Needs To Know®

Cuba: Street Photography by Jeffrey Milstein

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In 2006 Luis Fernando Montero Avila left his home country of Venezuela and travelled to Madrid in search of work and hope for a better life. These are his words and pictures.



Snapshot: 2008  Molokai, Hawaii

My first visit to Hawaii was back in 1994. Then it was the island of Oahu and around Waikiki that I spent most of my time. Although I had some great memories the place felt a little too commercial, built-up and touristy with Honolulu feeling a long way away from Elvis’ Blue Hawaii.