Viral Photo Showcases Cuba's 'Time Capsule'

March 21st 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

A viral photo trending Monday shows Air Force One descending onto a Cuban runway above vintage American cars from the 1950s. Can you say metaphor?

The picture showcases the stark contrast between modern technology in the U.S. and the time capsule Cuba has become since the U.S. embargo against trade with Cuba in 1960 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The image quickly circulated on Twitter.

Air Force One’s landing marks a historic moment for U.S.-Cuban relations.

President Barack Obama is the eleventh president to serve since the embargo and the first U.S. president to step foot on the island in 88 years. He met with Cuban President Raul Castro Monday to discuss a path forward for the relationship of the two countries, he said a year ago that it’s time for a change.

“We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result,” said Obama in December 2014, according to NPR.

The vintage cars in the viral photo showcase the forced innovation and technological stall Cubans face on an everyday basis. One blogger for Road and Track said that Cuba’s car culture is “like stepping through a time warp."

Road & Track contributor Jonathan Ward

“Everything that people had told me was true: Havana is like stepping through a time warp. If the country looks frozen in time, that's because it sort of has been since 1959, when Castro's revolution resulted in the nation's near-total isolation from the U.S. In addition, with limited trade and imports controlled by the Cuban government, people learned to make the most of what they had. This all spurred a culture of resourcefulness that is well beyond anything pampered first-world types could even imagine. Forget Naked & Afraid—try owning a 1959 Buick without the Internet, parts stores, or even paint shops." - Jonathan Ward

Cubans innovate with cars and also with communication. Despite a lack of internet infrastructure, Cubans have found ways to skirt that problem with smart phones and apps that work without WiFi.

However all that is about to change. Obama said that Google is ready to expand internet access across Cuba. “One of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more WiFi and broadband access on the island,” he said, according to Reuters.

Also Cuba hosted a technology information fair last week to introduce foreign business executives to entrepreneurs and executives from Cuban state companies. Google Vice President and scientist Vint Cerf, alongside a Google attorney, reviewed the history of the internet and Google’s projects to expand the internet across developing nations. "The people of Cuba and the people of the United States are calling for it, collaboration between the two peoples apart from politics,” he said, according to ABC News. “Information technology is essential, perhaps the most important, for human development these days."

With all these new developments, many Twitter users have something to say about Cuba's future.

Although Cuba looks poised to leap into the 21st century, hopefully the cool cars of the past will thrive in the future. The first American car show shot on Cuban soil called “Cuban Chrome” aired last year on Discovery Channel in 220 countries according to The Washington Post.

In the show, car enthusiast Roberto Ordaz, talks about “Cuban physics,” or the way islanders have improvised their way of life for many years. “It’s how to solve problems. Not to get stuck, not to wait for anybody else. You can do it yourself.”

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