Photojournalist Lisette Poole’s new book of photographs was born out of a simple observation: Cuba was in the middle of a mass exodus, and it seemed to her that no one in Havana could keep their minds off it. La paloma y la ley — which translates to “The dove and the law” — is a book of photographs and essays that documents the arduous migration journey of two Cuban women, Marta Amaro and Liset Barrios, from Havana to the U.S.
By Avery Ellfeldt
Poole shot photographs and took field notes as they traversed 13 countries and 10 borders over about 8,000 miles — with no set route or details beyond a piece of paper with the name of a human smuggler they hoped would guide them north. The book — Poole’s first — is a collection of images that captures Marta and Liset on the move: on endless bus rides; in thick, wild jungles; and floating down rivers in rafts. In many of the photographs, the two women are pictured traveling alongside other migrants who hailed from countries that dot the globe: Somalia, Haiti, Nepal and Bangladesh, among others.
Poole’s desire to document a migratory journey sparked in 2015, when tens of thousands of Cubans began leaving the island. In the wake of the Obama administration’s efforts to thaw diplomatic tensions between the two countries, Cubans anticipated that a refugee policy would also unravel and thwart a decades-old path to lawful U.S. residency. That policy gave special preference to migrants fleeing Cuba without a visa to automatically stay in the U.S.
Poole, who is Cuban-American, said her ultimate goal in making the book was to “chip away at the illusion that American-born citizens are any different from those fighting to get here now.”