“Welcome to Santa Clara”

Santa Clara, Cuba. October 2017 (14 photos)

This is part 8 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

After a few days in Havana I headed east towards Trinidad. En route I passed through the city of Santa Clara, approximately in the middle of the island of Cuba. It was a good place to stop for lunch. Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara. It is the fifth largest Cuban city by population.

Vastly different to the atmosphere of Havana, this inland city still has all the iconic features one expects to see in Cuba.

Images of Che Guavara and reminders of the Revolution are everywhere. So are people standing around doing nothing.

This photo was taken at the main plaza. Just beyond the building at the intersection on the right, is where I ate lunch. They do a nice mojito as well. Just in case you wanted to know.

This guy loved hamming it up for my camera. Never a dull moment in Cuba.

Alright, occasionally there are dull moments.

A tribute to Fidel Castro.

Revolution is…

Moreover, Santa Clara has a particularly important part in Cuba’s revolutionary history.

Santa Clara was the site of the last battle in the Cuban Revolution in December 1958. There were two guerrilla columns that attacked the city, one led by Che Guevara and the other led by Camilo Cienfuegos. Guevara’s column first captured the garrison at Fomento. Then, Guevara’s soldiers destroyed railroad tracks and derailed a train full of troops and supplies sent by President Batista. On December 31 1958, the combined forces of Guevara and Cienfuegos launched an attack on Santa Clara. The battle was chaotic, the defenders were demoralized, some fought, others surrendered without a shot. By the afternoon, the city was captured.

This victory by Castro’s forces led by Guevara and Cienfuegos is regarded as a decisive moment in the Cuban Revolution. At 3am on January 1 1959, Batista boarded a plane with a few supporters and immediate family members and fled to the Dominican Republic.

Guevara held several positions in the new Cuban government but ultimately gave it away to continue his fight for revolution. He was caught and executed by the CIA in Bolivia in 1967.

Guevara remains both a beloved and a reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs and films. As a result of his perceived martyrdom, Guevara has evolved into a quintessential icon of various leftist movements. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him, titled Guerrillero Heroico, has been cited as “the most famous photograph in the world”.

On October 17 1997, Guevara’s remains with those of six of his fellow combatants, previously retrieved from Bolivia, were laid to rest with military honours in a specially built mausoleum in Santa Clara.

“Gracias Fidel”

Cuba is what it is today in large part due to the actions of and reactions to Fidel Castro and the Revolution. Purely from the point of view of a photographer indulging in my beloved form of street photography, I have to agree with the sentiment.

This is part 8 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.

Click here for part 1 of my Cuba 2017 photo series, as featured on WordPress’ discovery site.

This is part 8 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Iconic Santa Clara


71 thoughts on “Iconic Santa Clara

  1. Stunning photos! A photographer’s dream, Cuba. Love the architecture. But my favourite image is your first one. If my house looked like that I would be pulling my hair out and weeping buckets, but she stands there looking so happy and welcoming. Wonderful image.

  2. J.D. Riso says:

    Thanks for the mojito tip. There is an art to standing around and doing nothing which you captured well. It’s not as easy as it looks!

  3. Love the colors, Lignum, and those two buildings in the fourth photo. Definitely not a fan of Che, but I’ll just leave it there, as I really don’t want to get into politics. πŸ™‚


  4. Wonderful first photo: red fingers, did she just stop skinning a chicken so that you could take a photo of her?

    I notice jeans, shoes, hand bags. A lot of stuff that we would think of as part of our consumer society. The fact that people hang around with nothing to do doesn’t change the acquisitiveness, or does it?

    Finally, I love the background colour that your algorithm picked out for this set of photos.

    • She was standing at the door, I think farewelling a friend who had just driven off in a car. I don’t know the reason for the stained fingers.
      Consumerism is present in most societies. It’s just that the opportunities and supply are limited in Cuba.

  5. Marvellous photos, thanks for sharing. I always think that the classic photos of Cuban street life – you know, old cars, historic buildings and so on and so forth – are set-ups, but time and again this splendid blog of yours actually shows that this is the truth!

    • Thank you very much. Leaving the airport for Havana, the first classic car I saw made me know for sure I was in Cuba. It’s all there -everything you imagined you would see in Cuba. It’s incredible.

  6. Heide says:

    What a magnificent photo essay! I feel like I’ve just had the Cuba “sampler platter” β€” a marvelous blend of colors, culture, and history. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  7. OMG you’ve outdone yourself. I love Santa Clara. You’ve got to get that picture of Che framed by the car and the pink walls and the lady in the doorway on your Instagram 😍😍😍

  8. I’m so pleased to find some more of your iconic Cuban photos LD. I thought those people were maybe queuing for a bus. Unemployment must be high to have so many people standing/sitting around. Were the umbrellas for rain or sun protection? So much colour.

    • I suppose context is everything. It was lunchtime and I guess many people get out and stand around at that time of the day. The umbrellas were definitely for sun protection. I certainly needed one. πŸ™‚

The Wood Dragon is listening...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.