Visiting Cuba helped us learn about another country as well as our own. What I left with most from Cuba was an understanding of how the values of a society are found in public. The Cuban use of public space is profound. From it, I learned about Cuban values and the organized attempts to include all Cubans in education, health, and citizen participation.

 


This billboard reads "WITH OUR IDEAS TOWARD THE FUTURE." In America, most billboards, especially in Black, Hispanic and poor communities, promote poor health (junk food, fast food, cigarettes, alcohol) and sexual fantasies. These are all things we simultaneously try to steer our children away from. In Cuba, there are no billboards marketing these corporate interests that make money off of what we know is wrong. Instead, scattered along the roadside are messages encouraging a national culture of learning.  This billboard speaks to the young and old.

 


The red scarves these children are wearing represent high achievement in school.  All throughout the country, children with red scarves pass by adults who recognize their achievements and cheer them on the way to school.  This helps the children to feel celebrated and respected as well as gives them a greater sense of responsibility to those around them.

 


This poster is one of the many found on any given street spreading information about a recent virus being transmitted through mosquito bites.  It describes the virus and what to for someone who gets bit.  Cubans were able to neutralize the virus threat very quickly because the word got out about the issue.  Posters like this were partly responsible for the victory.

 


This billboard is celebrating 2002 as the 43rd anniversary of the 1959 Revolution.  It is a way of using public space to remember and to keep the momentum of the Revolution going.

 


This is a monument of Antonio Maceo.  Maceo, an AfroCuban nicknamed the "Bronze Titan", was a  military leader of the first independence movement.  He is a people's hero.  Nearly every block you travel down you will see a monument of Maceo or the intellectual leader, Jose Marti, or many others.  We saw them in parks like this one, in people's front yards, and in windows.  These public monuments pay tribute to those who fought for freedom and keep the social memory of resistance to injustice alive.

 


Large murals like this one dot the walls of many communities throughout Havana.  It is a comfortable infusion of art in society that adds a healthy creative value to the surrounding space.  These murals are parallel to criminalized American hip hop youth whose graffiti murals wish to beautify abandoned urban buildings and create a culture of discussion of current events.

 


This is the logo of the mass organization called CDR, which stands for Committee for Defense of the Revolution.  Cuban society is organized into CDRs on every block.  They help with the affairs of the people on the block, like housing, health and domestic issues.  For example, there is a doctor assigned to each CDR that provides the free health care that Cuba has been able to achieve.  CDRs are also a mechanism for disseminating information.  So the mosquito epidemic mentioned above was countered through the CDRs as well.