Before the island nation of Cuba became an object of political scorn by the United States, it was a glamorous destination for everyone from American movie stars to aristocrats to revolutionaries. While still isolated in many ways, Cuba is experiencing a resurgence in tourists and general travel interest. The island is a living, breathing testament to the mercurial nature of politics, and photos from Ramiro Fernandez’s fantastic Cuba Then remind us what Cuba once was — and what it could be again.
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The sights of Havana in 1925.
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Teenagers dance at Mariano Beach in 1956.
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Chilean singer Lucho Gatica talks with a friend at the Havana Hilton in 1958.
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A group of revelers cross dresses during a 1960 Carnival in Santiago de Cuba.
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Cuban singer and dance Lina Salomé zooms around Havana in 1956
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Singer Celia Cruz dons a dress by Cuban designer Manolo Fernández at Havana's Tropicana Night Club in 1954.
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Bus riders show their tickets in Havana, 1954.
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A young Desi Arnaz can be seen in this Soap Box Derby photo (second from the left in a white shirt), taken in Santiago de Cuba in 1925.
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Before he led the revolution, Fidel Castro (seen at the second row from the top on the far left) played basketball. Here he is with his team--from the Belén Jesuit Preparatory School--in 1943.
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Celia Cruz posing again in 1962.
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A man pushes his broken down Jaguar XK-120 during the Havana-Guinea-Cienfuegos race in 1955.
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Fidel Castro studies an MK51 gun director in 1961.
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A couple steps out for a coffee and a smoke in Havana, 1957.
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"Fu-Manchu" breathes fire in front of Havana's Saratoga Hotel in 1949.
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Mexican songwriter Agustín Lara exchanges glances with actress Maria Felix in Havana, 1948.
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In 1964, revolutionary Che Guevara takes a break from political thought and focuses instead on the chess board.
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Actress Emilia Guiú lights up a cigarette in Havana, 1952.
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Actor Alec Guinness and director Carol Reed chat on the set of "Our Man in Havana" at the José Martí airport in 1959.
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Winston Churchill meets with Agriculture minister Germán Alvarez Fuentes to ogle over a box of cigars in 1947.
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Ernest Hemingway trades words with Spencer Tracy on the set of "The Old Man and the Sea" in 1957.
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Half-Cuban actor César Romero (whose grandfather was famed Cuban poet and revolutionary José Martí) chats with Mexican actress Elena de la Cruz in Havana, 1946.
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Fantastic Photos Of Vintage Cuba Show Life Before Castro