Ariam and Nidieska Mederos Lores
Wrapped in a thick blanket of aesthetic nostalgia, Havana is the throbbing heart of Cuba. The streets shimmer with a mix of salty air. At noon the oppressive sun slows down time to a staggering hum and mostly everyone is affected by a paralysis. This is when I jump into the sea off of the Malecon with a Cuban. Ariam is a sixteen-year-old boy living with his mother, Nidieska. The building they live in has been condemned since the 80’s – it lacks running water and had partially collapsed in 2000. A year later, Nidieska was diagnosed HIV positive. Due to this and her osteoporosis she cannot work. Without running water or a steady income, Ariam and Nidieska improvise and work together to make ends meet.
As a growing tourist hot spot, Cuba is now slowly recovering from the dissolution of the Soviet Union - which had caused severe shortages of oil and crippled their state-controlled economy in the 90’s. But despite the tourism influx of money, many Cuban families have not recuperated from the radical hardships and overhaul of their country. A dual economy now exists in Cuba: the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC, which is the equivalent of the USA dollar) and the Peso (which is 1/23rd of the CUC). The disparity between the people who use each system is staggering. Ariam and Nidieska Mederos Lores offer a contrast to the CUC funded façade of Cuba. These photos highlight the day-to-day struggle of the Mederos Lores family.
-William Martin III