Approaching midnight in Miramar, the streets are dark in one of Havana's most pleasant residential districts, popular with diplomats and foreign businessmen. Fifth Avenue, a broad, tree-lined boulevard, appears to be practically escortss. Police officers patrol outside diplomatic residences. Yet every few blocks, young women dressed in garish clothes, sometimes standing by themselves, often in pairs, appear out of the gloom and hail passing cars.
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Frequently a car stops, a brief conversation ensues and the women hop in. It's a scene being repeated every night up and down the city's seafront district. Lured by tourist dollars, Havana's young hustlers, both men and women, stake out hotels, bars and discos, top rated escort sites to be picked up by visitors to the island. Cuba's authorities, who once boasted that prostitution, gambling and other capitalist evils had been eliminated by the communist revolution, now turn a blind eye to the return of the sex trade.
Two years ago Cuban leader Fidel Castro recognized that prostitution had made a comeback, cbuan argued that, thanks to social escotrs made by the revolution, Cuba could at least boast the cleanest and best-educated hookers in the world. But the growth of prostitution in Cuba in the past couple of years can no longer be so easily dismissed.
From being an inevitable byproduct of economic conditions, it has turned into a thriving and highly organized mini-industry. On the street, Cuban men frequently pester tourists to inquire if they are in need of female company or a quiet room to rent for the night. The root of the problem is Cuba's dependence on the dollars generated by a booming tourist industry, which has grown more than 40 escorte in the past two years. Forced to rethink their economic strategy after the collapse of Cuba's commercial ties with the former Soviet bloc, Communist Party leaders are banking heavily on the new revenue from tourism.
That's the word spreading escorst the cubqn of Europe and Latin America, where glossy magazines have reported cbuan Cuba is now one of prostitutes of maitland world's leading fleshpots.
In March, the Italian travel magazine Viaggiare named Cuba the "paradise of sexual tourism," after an informal poll of travelers, tour operators and journalists. Cuba was ranked higher than Brazil and Thailand in the magazine's special report on "erotic tourism" worldwide. Two women appeared at edcorts Fifth Avenue street corner as a car with three Italian men approached. Within seconds, Tania, 17, had thrust her body halfway through the driver's window, locking her arms around the neck of a sun-tanned Italian in his 20s.
After some groping eecorts heavy kissing, the man got down to business.
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In broken Spanish and using hand s, the tourist explained that he and his passengers wanted her to spend the night with them. Negotiations broke down when Tania refused to abandon her friend, Judaisy, 21, who stood close by, illuminated by the half light of a street lamp. No doubt confident of satisfying their quest down the road, the men drove off. Less than a minute later Tania and Judaisy were bargaining with two more Italians who pulled over in another car.
Earlier that evening, Tania and Judaisy discussed what prompted them to walk the streets at night, and on the condition that their last cuabn not be used, allowed a photographer to observe how they operate.
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Judaisy, who sells black-market yogurt, lives with her mother and young son. It's chive hotties common complaint on the island. The economic crisis has made a mockery eacorts the national currency, the peso, and state salaries. For many, selling sex is just another means of survival.
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In fact, most Cubans don't call them prostitutes at all. Instead, they are known as "jineteras," from the word jinete, meaning jockey. It's a phrase that helps distinguish them from traditional ladies of the night, since their aim is often simply to ride along with tourists as companions, both day and night. They seek money and friendship. They don't want to touch you. But sometimes it means going all the way.
The goal for many jineteras pronounced hee-NEH-te-ras is to marry a foreigner and move abroad. But jineteras say Cuban women have increasingly fallen victim to unscrupulous Europeans working as talent scouts for prostitution rackets.
The dance floor and bar area pulsate with prostitutes every night. Three-quarters of the customers are women, and most enter unaccompanied. Judith, 19, an elegant woman wearing a gold necklace with the English words "Love You" around her neck, described how she recently turned down an offer to "work" in Spain. He said he could arrange everything if I wanted to go to Spain. Judith said she rejected the offer after a friend warned her that Cuban women were being exploited in Spain.
She also said her mother and 2-year-old daughter depended cindy mesa escort her.
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At least one company in Spain offers clients visiting Cuba a catalog of women to serve as "companions" during their stay. Spanish indian escort mount isa incall suspect this is a ruse for prostitution but are unable to intervene unless minors are involved or the scheme is used to smuggle Cubans out of the country on fraudulent documents.
Tania recalls being taken by a friend to a house in Havana where a European modeling agency was supposedly auditioning girls for a catalog. I didn't like it," she said. The attitude of the authorities is one of watchful tolerance, while accepting no blame.
Although prostitution is illegal, police rarely make arrests and instead only interrupt street soliciting when the jineteras stray too close to diplomatic residences. Some embassies have complained that the night life in Miramar is upsetting for diplomats with young children. Child prostitution also has appeared on Havana's streets.
But when a state-run radio station prepared a program about it, featuring a year-old hooker and her pimp mother, it was censored. Officials objected to the program's conclusion, that the growth of prostitution was the product of economic necessity.
A softer report was recorded, with the year-old edited out, and the blame was placed on poor individual morality. Women's groups in Cuba blame prostitution for a rise in the rate of abortions, estimated last year at 60 per every 1, women between the ages of 15 and That is the highest cyban in Latin America, and more than double the United States'.
Witness: dollars can still buy love in cuba
Many Cubans are angry that ecorts government has allowed prostitution to be conducted so openly, in order to please sex-hungry tourists. Sitting in the square outside the Cohiba hotel, two young Cuban couples questioned what was becoming of their country, as prostitutes and male pimps openly solicited clients on the hotel steps.
Is this country so screwed esdorts that these are the only kind of tourists we can attract? It's degrading. Where's the respect? What the hell is going on? One of the few places where prostitutes are hard to find these days is the newly reopened Two Brothers bar, in the port district.
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A notorious mafia hangout and watering hole for American sailors in the s, it cubzn yet to make a hit with Havana's modern-day tourists. No doubt they'll find it soon enough.
With a recordforeigners expected to visit Cuba cubab year, the government can't build new hotels or restore the famous old haunts fast enough. Cuban officials hope that prostitution will subside as the economy improves with the help of outside investors. But it may be a long time before the jineteras are out of business.
So far foreign investment has only brought them more clients, and Cuba's modest economic growth continues to be outpaced by the sex industry. Subscribe Manage my subscription Activate my subscription Log in Log out. Regions Tampa St. Letters to the Editor Submit a Letter. Long Re. Investigations Narratives Pulitzer Esckrts. Connect with us.
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