A farmer uses cattle to tend to his crops. It is illegal to kill a cow in Cuba, where all cattle are technically owned by the state. A person can be sent to jail for up to 20 years for illegally slaughtering a cow. (Adam Glanzman)

(Adam Glanzman)

The  Viñales  Valley  is  a  stunning  UNESCO  World  Heritage  site  and  home  to  some  of  the  most  pristine  tobacco  fields  in  Cuba.  The  village  of  Viñales  consists  of  two  main  roads  where  most  of  the  buildings  are  one-story  wooden  colonial  houses.  This  region  of  Cuba  is  one  of  the  last  places  in  the  world  where  traditional  methods  of  tobacco  growing  have  survived.  Agriculture  and  tourism- related  jobs  are  the  main  forms  of  income  for  Cubans  in  Viñales.

The  area’s  natural  beauty  has  attracted  many  tourists  in  the  last  decade.  But  many  locals  feel  that  a  tourism  explosion  is  on  the  horizon  as  relations  between  the  United  States  and  Cuba  improve.  In  the  eyes  of  some  Viñales  residents,  this  may  be  detrimental  to  the  well-preserved  landscape  and  traditional  forms  of  agriculture.  UNESCO  also  worries  that  with  increased  tourism,  greater  precautions  will  have  to  be  taken  in  order  to  conserve  the  integrity  of  the  area.

Photojournalist Adam Glanzman looks  at  the  real  Cuban  “Cowboys”  of  Viñales  as  they  are  now.  It  is  not  hard  to  find  a  tobacco,  coffee  or  pineapple  farmer  by  simply  walking  through  the  village.  Farmers  and  ranchers  are  more  than  happy  to  take  you  around  their  “fincas,”  many  expecting  nothing  in  return.  In  five  years  it  will  likely  be  a  very  different  scene:  It  is  not  hard  to  predict  that  tourism  will  overtake  agriculture  as  the  main  source  of  income  for  many  Cubans  living  here.  The  real  Cuban  cowboy  of  Viñales  may  disappear.


A tobacco farmer tends to his crops in Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

Horses are used as a means of transportation in Viñales, Cuba where crops such as tobacco, coffee, potatoes and pineapples are important parts of the economy. (Adam Glanzman)

Two men stop to talk on the side of a road outside Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

A young boy poses on his family’s farm with tobacco leaves that have been picked and laid out to dry in Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

A pineapple farmer looks out from his farm a few miles outside of Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

A coffee farmer feeds his dog during the early evening in Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

A farmer walks the paths between fields in Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)

A family of tobacco farmers watch the sunset from their tobacco fields, which have been in the family for many generations, in Viñales, Cuba. (Adam Glanzman)