Videofilming in a partly closed society

"It's Cuba and the rest of the world" was a phrase we heard from several Cuban people we met in Havanna. The Internet access is outrageous expensive for locals and they have a very limited bandwidth in their connection to the outside world. All media is controlled by the government and the use of social media is near to null.

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As a tourist, with a valid visa, it's allowed to bring camera, videocam and/or taperecoder with you. However, when passing immigration, your luggage is x-rayed for probiteted articles as pornography and other stuff. When the officials saw my backpack, with DSLR, opticts, videocameras, an iPad and exteral shotgun microphone and a lavallier, their immediate question was if I was a journalist. 

It was easiest to tell the truth, so I said no and told them that I was here for diving and pointed at my handbag with regulators and diving instruments. I was then allowed to grab my bags and continue to customs. As long you avoid military buildings and such things you can take a lot of tourist photos on your own. Check current rules before arriving.

When we were walking in the old parts of Havanna, I either used a DSLR wih a medium sIze zoom-lens or the Sony videocam. Taking photos didn't gain so much attraction. There are more than two milion foreign tourists per year in Cuba so yet another camera didn't bring much attention. I even met a group of U.S. photographers from Santa Fe that was part of a cultural exchange. (U.S. citizen are only allowed, by their government, to travel to Cuba under special circumstances.)

However, my videocamera with a large shade attached to it and an external shotgun equipped with a softie was not un-noticed. Not even in the tourist quarters of Habana Vieja. There was lot of curiosity from the friendly locals, but also a few terrified people who was very afraid of getting filmed. 

The consequences of saying the wrong thing or doing wrong are very different compared to a western country. Therefore, you have to be extra careful when taking photos or videofilmning so that you don't make it problematic for them after you have left the country.

Musicans all over Cuba were very proud of their local music and we were even invited to an apartment to listen and film their jam-session. Even with different languages, we shared the same happy feeling from the music.