In Photos: Life in Castro's Cuba

Upon the death of Fidel Castro, see an inside perspective of what life was like in his Cuba.

In light of the death of Cuba’s long-time leader Fidel Castro, we look back at what daily life was like for Cubans under Castro.

In an interview, he expanded on some of his impressions of the country.

"One thing that really does need to be made clear is that there isn't abject poverty in Cuba," Harvey said. "You're not going to find people sleeping in the streets or kids that look malnourished. But they don't have a lot of material possessions, and there is a lot of inconvenience—standing in line is what you do in Cuba for everything."

Since he stepped down after suffering from poor health in 2006, Castro ceded power to his younger brother, Raul.

Tune in to watch Fidel Castro: The Lost Tapes on Sunday 4 December at 9.30pm AEDT on National Geographic Channel

 

Fidel Castro makes a public appearance at a rally in Havana.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

Tobacco farmer Juan Gomez embodies the "old school" methods of Cuba's legendary cigar-tobacco industry. Like other farmers, Gomez grows his own leaf and sells to the state monopoly. Cuban cigars are considered among the world's finest and are prized by connoisseurs, regardless of their political persuasion.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

"This is a pretty typical scene for Havana or anywhere else" in Cuba, said photographer David Alan Harvey.

"There's not a whole lot to do in Cuba for many people, because they don't really have the material possessions or the recreational activities that some other people do," the photographer continued. "But the quality that they do have is the ability to make something out of nothing, and that goes for everything that they do."
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

Stormy waters break over Havana's Malecón seaside avenue in 1998, but the surf doesn't slow the flow of rickshaws and classic U.S. automobiles.

Like Havana's famous classic cars, the city's seawall—built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—is another relic of a bygone age.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

The faces of Cuba's future pay tribute to an icon of the country's past: Cuban revolution leader Che Guevara.

"It was Che Guevara's birthday, and the kids all turned out with these pictures of Che," said photographer David Alan Harvey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

Tobacco farmers mend a fence near the Cuban town of Manicaragua. Food rationing is a way of life for most of their compatriots, but rural dwellers such as these farmers often enjoy the benefits of their own gardens.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

Cuba's Trinidad Folkloric Ballet rehearses in an empty courtyard, honing skills for both foreign and domestic audiences. Trinidad, a former sugar town, is a cultural hotbed, but such pursuits are extremely popular all over the country.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

"Cuban kids will play baseball anywhere," said photographer David Allen Harvey. The kids will even use sticks for bats and rolls of duct tape as balls.

Passion for baseball permeates society.

"The first time I saw them talking baseball, I thought a fight was going on—and there they were debating something that Mickey Mantle did in 1953," said Harvey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

The Cuban city of Trinidad's oldest surviving church, the Nuestra Seqora de la Candelaria de la Popa, was built in the early 18th century. Today it is a ruin in need of restoration, but the site still offers a poignant reminder of the city's rich colonial heritage.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID ALAN HARVEY

"Cuba": Cover of June 1999 Issue of National Geographic
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES

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