May 22, 2024
Big Shot
A Restricted View

After several failed attempts to escape to the United States, Michael lives in crowded circumstances, and under police watch, in a basement near Havana

ALAMAR, Cuba — Born just outside of Havana, Michael Sanchez, 32, has always dreamed of leaving Cuba for the riches and culture of the United States.

He’s tried many times to escape — and because of that, a police presence is a constant in his life. Michael possesses a letter the police gave his parents when he was in the 5th grade, explaining his first arrest, for a fight. Recently, he was prosecuted for another fight, with a man in an area canteen. It took two years for that case to be tried, but after it was, he was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

Michael shares a bedroom with several others, including his girlfriend, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend. The police often prevent Michael from accompanying his girlfriend beyond their neighborhood.

Making the best of a claustrophobic existence, Michael and his friends often dance and drink while listening to music videos (illegal copies), played on an illegal TV and DVD player.

Unemployed, and with the police almost always watching, Michael and his family leave the house only to buy food, and occasionally on weekends, to visit friends and relatives. Their relationships, with help from some Cuban rum, keep them sane.

The family also trades in Cuba’s very prominent black market, trying to save up money to buy a seat on another Miami-bound vessel — willing to risk everything again for a chance at a better life in the United States.

Benjamin Norman is a New York City-based photographer and filmmaker. See more of his work here.

2 comments about “A Restricted View”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Big World Magazine » A Restricted View [] on says:

    [...] Big World Magazine » A Restricted View – view page – cached Because there’s more to life than life on the block. Filter tweets [...]

  2. Jurgen Ankenbrand says:

    I am German citizen living in teh US on an immigration visa (green card).
    Several years ago on the way back from Antarctica where I had run a marathon, via Mexicio I flew to Cuba and spent one week there. I was lucky to had made a previous contact with a Cuban family on the Internet mamking theentire process much easier and less complicated.
    I had a great time, saw much of the island and met several nice people.
    It’s a shame that moronic polititians can’t let go and “open up” Cuba for travel for all US citizens, teh ban hurts nobody except Cubans on the island, so how about it Mr. Obama?
    It’s amazing with all that most Cubans have a very happy and friendly disposition and are fun to be around

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