The printing presses housed at Martires de Barbados are a brilliant example of old equipment that is still being used today. They are some of the oldest printing presses in Cuba, and were originally used to print a local newspaper called La Correspondencia in the early 19th century.
Although the presses remain in service today, newspapers are no longer printed here. Instead they are used to print leaflets, office documents, and much more. Today’s workers use the machines in exactly the same way as their counterparts in the 1800s, cutting the paper and producing printing blocks.
It’s a fascinating window into the extent to which Cuban society relies on relics of a bygone age to maintain basic functions. It might be less visible than the old classic cars which rumble through the streets of Havana, but the printing presses are equally important.
Cuban media is tightly controlled by the government, and dissidents are regularly silenced by the authorities. The arrival of the internet to the island has made information easier to access for those who can afford it, and experts believe that free information could have profound consequences for the future of the country.
Younger Cubans are looking outside the country more than ever before, and the clamour for change is growing. However, current president Raul Castro has so far only carried out limited reforms, and Cuba experts are unsure of what will come next. A lot will depend on the attitude of US President Donald Trump and his policy towards Cuba, but for now things remain uncertain.
The presses that once churned out La Correspondencia might not print the news anymore, but they could live to see the day that Cuba is freed from the embargo.