Cigar Lady, by Chip Cooper
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Old Havana: A Cuban and an American explore a city

The Old Havana neighbourhood of Cuba's capital city shows its wear.

After decades of a punishing US embargo, the loss of Soviet subsidies and a communist economic system critics say has failed, the city's buildings are in desperate need of a paint job or a new coat of plaster.

Cars are older than the men driving them, and poor families crowd into grand old homes that once housed the city's aristocracy.

But when photographers Chip Cooper and Nestor Marti ventured into its streets, they found a city under change.

After decades of communist rule, the government has slowly loosened its restrictions on private enterprise - and the US has taken steps to ease its economic embargo.

Cooper's and Marti's photographs, published in Old Havana: Spirit of the Living City/La Habana Vieja: El Espiritu de la Ciudad Viva, illustrate how the vibrant, vivacious Cuban people have thrived amid the long hardship and adapted first to communism and now to the gradual economic reforms.

Photographs courtesy of Chip Cooper and Nestor Marti/University of Alabama Press; Produced by Daniel Nasaw

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