A Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

la-habana-1070897-1In2016, I traveled twice to the Republic of Cuba, once in February and then again, in May.  On my trip in February, I boarded an American Airlines charter destined for the José Martí International Airport, which is just a short cab ride away from the center of La Habana, (sic) Havana.  I still remember the excitement I felt as the plane approached the island nation of Cuba because of all I had heard about its political system, and its most infamous leader, Fidel Castro.  It surprised me to see how green and lush the island is, and how well manicured the land was.  Most surprising were the occasional swimming pools in the back yards of what appeared to be modest homes from the air.

Since the 1960s, successive U.S. administrations have maintained a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation of Cuba.  It is the reason why Cuba appears to have been frozen in time.  The so-called “Embargo” also affects nations, which are aligned with the U.S., because it imposes legal and economic penalties to those U.S.-aligned nations, if they decide to go against the U.S. economic embargo – or as the Cubans refer to it: the blockade.  While the U.S. lead economic embargo is designed to compel the Cuban government to adhere to political and social norms more in line with U.S Foreign Policy.  For more in-depth look a U.S.-Cuba foreign relations read this article: U.S.-Cuba Relations.

The airport terminal was exactly as one would expect to find in any Third World country: it was cramped, dark and lacking all manner of modernity.  The airport was a stark reminder that the Republic of Cuba (Cuba) is an economically and diplomatic alienated nation, the result of the U.S. Embargo.  It is noted that Cuba is by definition, not a “Third World” country, but rather it is a “Second World” country because of its alignment to the former Soviet Union and China, which comprised the major portions of the Communist Bloc at the time of the Embargo.

I hope you enjoy the following images I made in La Habana, and Viñales, Cuba: La Habana, Cuba, Images Gallery.

Free Speech in Action at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Philadelphia is the birthplace of American Democracy and as such, provided the perfect backdrop as it hosted the DNC.

Slide Show | Photos of demonstrators outside the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 25th-28th, 2016.  On July 25th, 2016, I proceeded to the an area just outside the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to witness and document some the political demonstrations, and social protests, taking place thereat.  Philadelphia is the birthplace of American Democracy and as such, provided the perfect backdrop as it hosted the DNC.

The DNC is the formal nominating event for the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.

Protesters and witnesses to the events outside the Well Fargo Center came from all over the country to witness or have their voices heard.  Some felt disenfranchised as they were prevented from attending the actual Convention activities held inside the Wells Fargo Center.

Crystal, a Morgan, West Virginia resident, informed me she had been a registered Bernie Sanders volunteer for the past year but was denied access to enter the Wells Fargo Center to support Mr. Sanders.  Others in Crystal’s delegation of volunteers had been denied access to the Center as well.

A contingent of local and Federal law enforcement agencies were on hand to provide security to the venue, while ensuring demonstrators and observers coexisted peacefully.  Most importantly, the police presence ensured all who wanted to exercise their right to free speech.

For a historical commentary on past Democratic National Conventions held in Philadelphia read the following Opinion at Philly.com: Article.

I hope you enjoy the following images I made at the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia, PA: 2016 DNC, Images Gallery.