New Internationalist

Ernesto Fernandez

December 2008

Photographer Ernesto Fernandez recalls the dawn of a new age as Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of its revolution.

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‘José Martí 1958’

Photographer Ernesto Fernandez documented the epic events in revolutionary Cuba during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Of this photo, he says:

‘I was only 18 in 1958, working for a magazine in Havana. As I hadn’t been to college I was only allowed to get one photo piece published each month. It was a terrible time, living under the Batista dictatorship – there was so much we could not publish for fear of reprisals. I was in the plaza that later became Revolution Square when I caught sight of the huge sculpture of the head of José Martí, our national symbol of independence. The eyes appeared to be blinded so as not to see what was being done to Cuba, so I quickly took two snaps. A soldier spotted me and asked what I was doing. Knowing the political power of the image, I replied that Martí seemed to be well looked after, and ran off. Back at the magazine my boss said there was no way we could publish the image – it was not published until 10 years later.’

In January 1959 Cuban people celebrated the triumph of their revolution after a long struggle. Despite the relentless economic blockade by the United States, the last 50 years have brought incredible achievements for a developing country. To mark the 50th anniversary of the revolution, the best of Cuban arts and culture will be celebrated in Britain throughout 2009:

More of Ernesto’s work can be seen at
With thanks to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign

This column was published in the December 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 418

New Internationalist Magazine issue 418
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