As part of my efforts to gain greater visibility for my project, I organized a seminar for Cuban photographers in May 2010. It proved to be a good idea; the local press, artists and celebrities were interested in the event. I talked about aerial photography and showcased my books. I was then invited on one of Havana’s radio talk shows for an interview about my plans to take pictures of Cuba from the air.
My books and the project impressed Liliana Núñez Velis, the daughter of Antonio Núñez Jimenes, a famous Cuban scientist and geographer. Her father was an associate of Fidel Castro who, after the revolution, established the Foundation for Nature and Humanity. After his death, his daughter took over as head of the organization.
Liliana invited me over for a chat and told me about her father’s activities, archive of photos, books and archaeological artifacts. I was surprised when she told me that Che Guevara himself was also a photographer. Liliana was very helpful and offered to write a recommendation letter to the Cuban Ministry of Culture, to which her foundation was a subordinate.
Thanks to Liliana, I met with Pedro Monzón Barata, the head of the Foreign Affairs Department at the Cuban Ministry of Culture. I had counted on the Ministry of Tourism’s support for this project, but unexpectedly it was the Ministry of Culture that became more interested in the book. After two months (in Cuba, this is record time), we signed a cooperation agreement. The ministry promised to coordinate the permissions and help organize the logistics of the project, and I pledged to donate 500 copies of the published book. I also promised to let them review all the photos I’d take, strictly follow the flight plan I was granted, and shoot only those areas for which permits were issued.