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Touring Havana 5
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

An elderly Cuban man walks around Havana.

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Touring Havana 7
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

People wait to be served outside a local bakery in Havana.

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Touring Havana 12
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

A local Cuban man lights a cigar in downtown Havana.

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Touring Havana 1
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

A local street performer stops and smiles for a photo on the streets of Havana.

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Touring Havana 16
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

Commuters hustle to catch the bus in Old Havana.

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Touring Havana 17
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

A woman get off of one of the public buses in Havana.

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Touring Havana 2
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

A line of old American cars is flanked by one of the newer cars wait for the traffic lights to change in Havana.

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Touring Havana 3
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

A pedestrian walks past a large sign that reads 'Live Free Cuba' in downtown Havana.

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Touring Havana 11
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
26 Mar 2014

Cubans waiting for transportation at night in Havana.

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Touring Havana 21
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

A Cuban woman walks past a sign that reads 'All for the Revolution' in downtown Havana.

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Touring Havana 18
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

A South Korean tourist skims through a travel guide while sitting on a street side in Havana.

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Touring Havana 9
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

Young children entertain themselves, playing football (with a volleyball), on the outskirts of Havana.

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Touring Havana 20
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

Two adolescent girls sit on the corner of a busy intersection in Havana.

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Touring Havana 19
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

A Cuban man smokes a loosely rolled cigar in downtown Havana.

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Touring Havana 10
Cuba
By Rustom Seegopaul
25 Mar 2014

A Cuban woman tastes an ice cream and a local Havana ice cream parlor.

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Les Gayrilleros à l’assaut de la scène
santa clara
By Conteur d'images
20 Dec 2013

À Cuba, la communauté transsexuelle est persécutée par les autorités, mais résiste dans un théâtre de la ville de Santa Clara, El Mejunje, qui utilise les arts de la scène comme moyen d’intégration sociale.

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Gayrillas Storm the Stage
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
01 Dec 2013

ENGLISH - In Cuba, the transsexual community is persecuted by authorities, but resistance is strong in the city of Santa Clara. Here the arts are serving the cause of social integration at a theatre called El Mejunje.

FRANÇAIS - À Cuba, la communauté transsexuelle est persécutée par les autorités, mais résiste dans un théâtre de la ville de Santa Clara, El Mejunje, qui utilise les arts de la scène comme moyen d’intégration sociale.

ESPANOL - En Cuba, la comunidad transexual está perseguida por las autoridades, pero resiste en un teatro de la ciudad de Santa Clara, El Mejunje, que utiliza las artes escénicas como medio de integración social.

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"Los Habaneros," the People of Havana
Havana,Cuba
By Transterra Editor
13 Sep 2013

The People of Havana

In September 2013, I photographed almost 100 people inside their homes in Havana. The inside of a person’s home says as much about their personality as their portrait does, and most of the homes I visited were filled with personal, social, cultural, economic and religious clues about their Cuban occupants. These interiors testified to the many hardships the people of Havana endure and the Cuban people’s resilience and resourcefulness.

Despite the years of international isolation, economic sanctions and general hardship, the people of Havana are warm, welcoming and positive. They are determined to enjoy life. There’s a strong sense of community in every neighborhood. Vulnerable people are supported by their community and no one is isolated.

Cubans make do with what they have. When something breaks, it’s fixed with whatever material that can be found. Nothing is wasted. Frequently it seems that nothing is thrown away. Despite the poor state of the buildings and the cramped conditions, most of the homes I visited were also filled with vibrant colours, mementos, belongings, beloved pets and human warmth and spirit.

The poor housing situation in Havana contrasts sharply with the many positive changes to society that the Communist Party has bought about. The housing in Havana lags far behind all the other indicators of development. Although the government still struggles to provide citizens with safe and comfortable housing, Cuba has a high life expectancy (79 years is the average), a 99.8 percent literacy rate, free education at every level and free health care for all its citizens.

These discrepancies between the housing conditions and the level of education and health care create a situation that is unique to Cuba. This is a country where a highly specialized doctor, for example, has no other option but to live in a cramped and humid room, in a dangerously unstable building.

There are however inconsistencies between the living standards of certain people. Not everyone is in the same situation and some people are able to live in better homes. This is often due to government connections. Residents who have family members working abroad and who send money to them and residents who are paid directly by tourists also have the means to improve their housing situation.

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Havana's Crumbling Houses
Havana, Cuba
By Transterra Editor
13 Sep 2013

Housing in Havana, Cuba

“It’s falling down.” This was the answer I invariably received when I asked the residents of Old and Central Havana about their homes. 

These photographs are born from my desire to see what living inside the crumbling grandeur of Havana’s buildings looks like. I photographed inside and outside almost a hundred different homes. Most of the homes I visited are in Old Havana.



Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Since this date, many buildings have been restored and though the work continues, the emphasis is always on preserving key buildings rather than improving or saving the lives of the general population. While certain buildings are done up to a high standard, the vast majority of the homes remain in a dangerous state. 

Age, decay, neglect, over-crowding and amateur repairs combine with natural factors to threaten the stability of Havana’s Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco buildings. There are two or three partial or totally building collapses in Old and Central Havana every week. Residents have no choice but to continue to live in these buildings that have partially collapsed.

Seven out of every ten homes are in need of major repairs, according to official statistics. Some of the main issues faced by the people living in Havana are dangerous, including outdated electrical wiring, basic or even nonexistent plumbing, floors and walls that are unstable or that have already caved in, collapsing roofs and ceilings, water damage, mold and dangerously unstable stairs.

A shortage of homes means the province around the capital needs some 300,000 more properties. Most of the once high-ceilinged houses of Havana have been divided both vertically and horizontally to provide more floor space. This puts the already weakened structures under additional strain. It also creates many dwellings with no windows or ventilation.

 Despite the many positive developments in education and healthcare the communist regime has bought about Cuba, it has failed with Article 9 of Cuba’s Constitution: The state shall work to ensure that no citizen is denied comfortable housing.


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Los Habaneros 17
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
12 Sep 2013

This couple own this beautiful, roomy apartment. They run a bed and breakfast business for tourists. The husband is a retired teacher of politics.

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Los Habaneros 2
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
12 Sep 2013

A dancer cuddles her puppy in her one-room apartment. The cracked and sagging marble floor is typical sight in buildings throughout Havana. Despite the acute shortage of living space in Havana, most people have at least one pet. Dogs are particularly popular. Pets are considered part of the family and are treated with love and respect.

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Los Habaneros 1
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Inside the home of four elderly brothers in Old Havana. The youngest of four brothers is enjoying a cigarette at the ground floor apartment his family has lived in for four generations. The apartment has electricity and basic plumbing, but water infiltration into the ceilings and walls has caused great damage.

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Los Habaneros 22
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A young couple and their baby live in this small apartment that has heavy damage due to the water infiltration. Their belongings are moldy and it is no longer safe to use anything electrical at the apartment. The family are considering moving into the already crowded home of some relatives.

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Los Habaneros 3
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

An elderly lady points toward a portrait of revolutionary, Camilo Cienfuegos. This 78-year-old woman shares two small rooms with her son. The original stairs to their home collapsed completely and were replaced by a four meter-high, rickety, homemade staircase. Ten years ago, this woman fell down these stairs and broke her shoulder, hip and all of her front teeth.

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Los Habaneros 4
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A young woman in her kitchen. The floor of the landing in front of this apartment has caved in and large marble slabs have fallen down to the hallway below. The couple who lives in this apartment have to walk carefully along the edge of the landing to get to their front door. They have no running water and have to carry buckets of water across the dangerous landing.

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Los Habaneros
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

The room where this woman lives has no windows or any other ventilation, so she keeps her door open whenever she is at home. She is seen here standing just outside her room.

She said she wasn't worried about her safety at night because her neighbours also had their doors open and they would hear if anything untoward happened.

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Housing in Havana 2
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Fuse boxes in the entrance of a building in Old Havana. These worn and out-dated fuse boxes are very dangerous and can be seen in the entrances of most of the buildings in Havana.

Residents rarely have the means to call in professionals to fix things in their homes. They are forced to use whatever materials they can find to make repairs and they take risks trying to repair electrical malfunctions.

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Housing in Havana 1
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A crumbling ceiling and staircase in Old Havana.

Neither the Cuban state nor the people have money for repairs and this lack of money has played a major part in the critical state of the buildings. Nicholas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University, said that the neglect of Havana's architecture was politically motivated and that it represented the work of the republic and, as such, Fidel wanted to see it eliminated. Other experts in architecture say that half a century of communist rule and embargos have indirectly saved the capital's architecture from developers, even though the lack of money for repairs has taken a terrible toll.

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Los Habaneros 6
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A cabaret performer dressing in his one-room home in Old Havana. As well as performing in clubs, he also teaches salsa to tourists.

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Los Habaneros 7
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

Although the building where this man lives is as unstable as most buildings in Old Havana, he has family in Miami who help with the costs of keeping his small apartment in relatively good condition. Cubans with family members abroad often have the latest flat screen televisions and other appliances in their homes. These items are unaffordable to most Cubans and they are not generally for sale in shops in Cuba.

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Los Habaneros 18
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
11 Sep 2013

A man smoking with friends in his one room home in Old Havana, combining two of the favorite pass-times in Cuba - socialising and smoking.

More than half of Cuban adults smoke and lung cancer is a major cause of death on the island. The government is working at increasing regulations on advertising and sales of cigarettes and, as of January 2014, smoking has been banned in public places. Time will tell whether or not this new ban will be enforced.

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Los Habaneros 19
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

A young man reflected in a bedroom mirror at his home in Old Havana. This man shares two small rooms with his boy-friend in this crumbling house in Old Havana.

Pre-revolution, Cuba had strict laws that criminalised homosexuality. However private, non-commercial sexual relations between same-sex consenting adults 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since 1979.

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Housing in Havana 25
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

A communal hallway of a house in Old Havana. These loose hanging wires can be seen in most of the buildings of Old and Central Havana.

Neither the Cuban state nor the people have money for repairs and this lack of money has played a major part in the critical state of the buildings. Nicholas Quintana, a Cuban-born professor of architecture at Florida International University, said that the neglect of Havana's architecture was politically motivated and that it represented the work of the republic and, as such, Fidel wanted to see it eliminated. Other experts in architecture say that half a century of communist rule and embargos have indirectly saved the capital's architecture from developers, even though the lack of money for repairs has taken a terrible toll.

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Los Habaneros 5
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This lady shares her apartment with her daughter and grandchildren. Although the apartment allows in more air and is brighter than most, it can only be accessed by a crumbling staircase.

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Los Habaneros 9
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This woman's one-room home is immaculately clean and tidy. She has to share a bathroom and kitchen with three different families and her room is accessed by climbing a crumbling staircase.

Like many elderly Cuban ladies she carefully stores and displays her personal mementos. She was very keen to show me her vast collection of old family photographs as well as newspaper cuttings of Fidel Castro.

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Los Habaneros 10
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This man whose wife died recently now lives alone in this roomy house in Old Havana. He is struggling with his loss but does his best to get up every day and to keep his house tidy. The house has all its original features, but it’s damp and the electrics and plumbing are very rudimentary.

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Housing in Havana 21
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

Catholic icons and images adorn the walls of most homes in Cuba. The dangerous wiring is also typical of homes in Havana. The people don't have the means to repair their homes properly.

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Los Habaneros 11
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This woman enjoys the good lighting and ventilation due to the large street-level windows. Her windows, like most street-level windows in Havana, are barred for security.

Like most Cubans, she is very sociable and she has a constant stream of friends stopping by to talk and to swap rations.

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Housing in Havana
Havana, Cuba
By Alison McCauley
10 Sep 2013

This fish tank belongs to a cobbler who lives and works in this partially collapsed building. In 2011 part of the building collapsed. Fortunately no one was hurt. The residents continue to live in what is left of the very unstable building. Although the residents have been advised to leave the building, they have no where else to go.