Cuban Revolution 60th

On the Magnum web site you can read ‘The Day Havana Fell‘, with Burt Glinn‘s story of how he rushed to Cuba from a New York party where he heard the news and how he covered the story – along of course with his pictures.

Although the Cuban revolution had started on 26 July 1953, it took 5 years, 5 months and 6 days before on 1 January 1959, Batista fled Cuba by air for the Dominican Republic 60 years ago today.

AP was there too, and have just re-published their film of the event on You-Tube.

President Kennedy a few years later in 1963 spoke of his sympathy with Castro and his fight:

“I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption.

I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States.  Now we shall to have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.”

Though that sympathy hadn’t stopped him authorising the diastrous ‘Bay of Pigs ‘ invasion two years earlier in 1951, nor did it stop the various other plots by the CIA to assassinate Castro, some extremely bizarre, revealed by a senate committe in the 1970s.

Cuba of course had its own photographers, best-knoown of whom was Alberto Korda, and you can read about some of them in the Daily Telegraph travel feature, Meet the front-line Cuban photographers who captured Castro’s ragtag rebellion. A rather better introduction is Shifting Tides – Cuban Photography after the Revolution, with text and pictures from a Grey Art Gallery, New York University 2002 show.

Time’s Lightbox features Cuban Evolution: Photographs by Joakim Eskildsen from 2013 by the Danish photographer, and the Huffington Post has 10 Cuban Photographers You Should Know.

Cuba remains a a country that divides opinion, with a socialist regime which is lauded by some for its healthcare and some other social provisions, while denigrated by others for its restrictions on private property and political opposition and for human rights abuses. It has suffered greatly from US sanctions over the years, though under President Obama there were some relaxation in these, including the re-establishment of diplomatic relations in 2015.

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