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No matter age, gender, sexual orientation or what they have endured politically, the people of Cuba are a nation with heart and soul. They live life to the fullest and their free spirits (a contradiction in its own right) shine brightly, enveloping those who come into their presence. Between communism and embargoes, Cubans have learnt to live without many items that a large majority of people around the world take for granted. Hard pasts and hard presents are deeply etched in their faces and their eyes don’t lie. Bizarrely though, they have an unwavering trust in humanity and a gentleness in their demeanour. They are not riddled with resentment, nor do they project a victim mentality but in fact have a swag in their walk, an ability to live in the present and a love for all things that feed their soul and senses. Their passion is captivating. Their pride in themselves, their fellows and their country is inspirational.

These Cuban men portray individual personalities and seemingly different lifestyles. Their jobs vary and include a barber, musician, manager and farmer. They were photographed in whichever location I met them. Some look more prosperous whilst others seem to be having a harder time, when in fact, they all actually live the same daily reality. Poverty in their country is rife. Rules, restrictions and monitoring of a nation under the guise of equality for all, has in fact, led mostly to shattered dreams more than anything else. This truth they do share.

Even so, these men exude their personal traits and characteristics. There is a resilience and an innate passion for life and survival that has enabled them to maintain their warmth, their humour and their honour. This is where I see equality shine through.

My observation during my trip to Cuba is that communism, with the intent of mass conformity will never be able to eradicate the individuality of a human being and this is what makes me stand back and look at the Cubans in awe and with respect.