Starting in the early 1960's, Cuban Exiles and other displaced Cuban population reached their final destination of Miami, Florida. In a neighborhood lying immediately west of Downtown Miami, they forged a new and different Cuban identity just 90 miles away from the Havana they left behind. They formed (La Pequeña Habana) Little Havana, named after Havana, the capital and largest city in Cuba. They built this new Havana to remind them of what they left behind. It has continued to be a magnet for new arrivals and the hub for Cuban Politics, Art and more.
Despite the radically different politics and the social and economic opportunities that separated this new Cuban Community, they all have one thing in common...that it is their love for Cuba...their homeland which will bond them together forever. They all share heart felt nostalgic memories, real or fictional of the life they had or thought they had back in Cuba. Most of them, if not all, would like to return to Cuba and live out the rest of their lives. The other Cuban-Americans, those who were born here of Cuban parents, have transferred their allegiance to their adopted country. To keep the love for Cuba alive, those strong nostalgic memories of the Cuba they knew are passed on to these new generations. Would they return if they could?
As of 2011, Little Havana has the highest concentration of Hispanics (98%) in Miami. Within the Hispanic population, the Cuban comminity has experienced a substantial decrease. However, Hispanic populations from other countries, especially those from Nicaragua, Honduras, and other Latin American countries has substantially increased since the early 2000's.
In spite of other Latin immigrants, along with their different cultures, have been moving in and around Little Havana. The remaining Cubans continue to nurture their obsessive dance with the nostalgia they have for Cuba and made the Little Havana of today a popular tourist destination. With these new opportunities, those Cubans who left Little Havana are now returning . Just like in Havana the streets in Little Havana today are bustling with life. The red white and blue Cuban flag is flown everywhere...even more here than in Havana. Repetitive, butt-shaking beats of salsa and merengue pour out of storefronts and restaurants, sometimes joined by the crowing of a rooster in a neighboring backyard. Dominos, the popular game of Cuba, is played by the young and old in parks and Cigar shops. The streets are lined with coffee cafeterias, cigar shops, beauty salons and barber shops, little food markets, art galleries, dollar stores, Botanicals filled with candles and statues that are part of the Santeria Afro-Caribbean religion, Cuban nostalgia shops, and bakeries offering racks of crusty Cuban bread and Guava pastries. You can see, feel and smell the bustling of life on the streets just about 24 hours a day.
These images form my fictional 24 hour journey through Little Havana, all based on my subjective observations... feelings of the pulse... and of slices of life from the nostalgic streets of Little Havana. These photographs are a long edit of a work in progress and were taken beginning in 2011 through the present.