Chago Adentro: Revisiting my hometown's memories

With all the hype about everything related to Cuba and the recent excitement produced by the lifting of the travel ban for Americans to visit the island, the visual world has been bombarded with photographs of Cuba, shot mainly in the western part of the island, where most of the tourism is concentrated. Most of these images represent the views of photographers, professionals, amateurs, and tourists, portraying their visual representation of their close encounter with a land that for years was not that open to the world. At the same time, Cubans have been sharing all over the social media geography their memories and daily life through images. As a Cuban American living in Miami since 1995, I have been able to travel to the island almost on a yearly basis since year 2000, visiting my family in the eastern part of Cuba. Through these years I have photographed my hometown of Santiago de Cuba, capturing the soul of its people and places and yearning for keeping my childhood and adolescence's memories. However, as time passes and the economical, social, and human situation in the country deteriorates those memories are fading away. 

These images may look sad or pessimistic to many, or they may not conform with the views that most people see these days of Cuba. But they are a raw representation of my pain, my nostalgia, my search for those places in "el Chago" (popular nickname of the city of Santiago de Cuba) where I had happy memories but they are either destroyed or in a very bad shape.  They also show the daily struggle of the regular people of all ages.