This man is Alberto Pulla, the most famous of all hat makers in Cuenca, Ecuador. He has been making hats since he was ten years old.
When this shot was taken, in 2000, he had just returned from Cuba where they had cut off his vocal chords, in an operation intended to forestall cancer spreading from his throat.
It was caused from the constant breathing of sulphur vapors used in making Panama hats, the best-selling product in his factory. He is a gracious, gentle man, whose voice is now a painful whisper.