Hustling in Cuba Takes a Legal Turn

Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 27 — Double standards are almost an inherent condition of Cuban life. The visceral fear of the truth, as well as our getting used to things seeming what they aren’t, have become practices used by many people to avoid the classic social stigmas of “standing out” or “asking for trouble.”

A countless number of people will accept an opinion with which they’re actually in total disagreement. They’ll attend events like CDR or union meetings, and go to marches and rallies, even though they couldn’t care less about any of these and where their presence is nothing but a sham.

There are those who hide behind their official position of activist or leader, even behind the undying Communist Party membership card.

To date, the voluntary manifestation of double standards is what some have decided to adopt to cooperate with the inertia in the middle of the social quagmire on this island.

The “Official” Double-Standard

However, it turns out that now there’s a new variant: the official double standard. Yes, it’s an alternative that’s favored by those same institutions as an invitation to commit publically condoned farce, or authorized deception.

As we all know, for years the state waged a merciless war against jineteros. This fairly large social group was, of course, dedicated to laying siege to foreign tourists (serving as guides, offering private lodgings and restaurants, which by the way have better quality services, and where these self-employed “hosts” earn commissions).

It’s common to see those friendly Cubans, always helpful and willing to come up with whatever a foreign friend needs: a rental car, cigars, rum, a beach house and even a woman…

They were a thorn in the side of the police, who had to constantly chase behind this band of go-getters.

Of course this also incredibly affected the country’s image, because not all jineteros were content with only a few dollars a day. There were those who went beyond certain limits to sell drugs or engage in pimping.

Despite its many beaches, Santiago has also developed a fair amount of urban tourism. Related to this, I discovered a few days ago how hustlers can now do their work in the centrally located Cespedes Park without being bothered by the police. They make their pitch to foreigners passing themselves off as workers in the tourism industry.

Someone with some brains came up with the idea to “legalizing” the status quo of these people. The result is that now they walk the streets, squares and areas with concentrations of foreigners wearing a badge accrediting them as “tourism attendants.”
But there’s always something about their look and how they approach visitors, certain telltale signs. Therefore I couldn’t help but be tempted to call to one of them and ask him what he was doing – to which he replied:

“I don’t know. Now I’m working here with drivers, offering tourists taxis and taking the Pepes and yumas (foreigners) to places they want to go…making a buck.  These days the police don’t bother you when they see your badge, so you can hustle more calmly.

Pretty smart, isn’t it? Like the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat’em, join’em! So now the double standard doesn’t even have to be one of personal initiative, it’s officially promoted.  It takes the form of authorized deception.



4 thoughts on “Hustling in Cuba Takes a Legal Turn

  • To the person who goes by ELPIDIO VALDES, I tried to write you at the email ([email protected]) you gave but it always bounces back. I was trying to tell you to please post your spanish language comment to Osmel’s post on the spanish version of HT. It makes no sense to post in Spanish for the English readers. Thanks for your understanding.

  • Sorry that I can’t read the Spanish Elpidio, Perhaps someone can translate it.

    Tourism is a double-edged sword .

    The money brought in by tourism is essential for the country yet the poverty of the country dictates that people will try to get some of that money from the tourists . That effect will corrupt those who are either immoral to begin with or even those who are just plain tired of living hand-to-mouth all their lives and then slowly lower their moral standards to get that sometimes-easy money..

    In this Cubans are no different from Jamaicans, Haitians or any other people struggling to make a decent living and where relatively wealthy tourists are available for serving or exploiting .

    Cubans just do not have the luxury of allowing that source of income pass by.

    Would that the Cuban revolutionary spirit and the will to provide a good example to the world, to present the moral and kindly face of true socialist ethics would prevail but it is economic necessity that too often prevails.

  • Los dobles standares o doble discurso en la Isla, es el resultado de muchos factores que muy pocos desean tocar para poder publicar sus comentarios en el exterior, como es el caso de este sitio Havana Times.

    No nos llamemos a engano, la mano sutil, delicada y peligrosa de la oficina de intereses de los Estados Unidos en la Habana, es la encargada de que salga a relucir este sindrome, que tuvo sus inicios y auge a partir de la caida del campo socialista, que tambien coincide con la creacion de los famosos disidentes, para ser justo, los mercenarios al servicio de una potencia extranjera, cosa que todos sabiamos que iba a suceder, pues los oportunistas de nuevo tipo, prefieren vivir sin trabajar, vivir del cuento y por ello recibir algunos dolares que le permitan una vida facil y sin sudar la camisa, todo lo que tienen que hacer es doblar la cerviz y servir de carne de canon al imperio que los utiliza y los desprecia al mismo tiempo.

    Tampoco escapa en este analisis, la presion economica, financiera, social y politica que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos ha tejido como arana alrededor de Cuba, para ser mas preciso, el bloqueo con toda su carga de destruccion, depredacion fisica y moral de algunos ciudadanos de la Isla, que prefieren vegetar bajo el manto de el robo, el trafico de influencias y todo lo que le permita escapar de la disciplina y el deber para con el pais que le ha dado todo, pidiendo solo el cumplir con las obligaciones ciudadanas de produccion, productividad y defensa de los logros patrios.

    Es preciso ademas recordar a los burocratas, los mejores aliados de los anexionistas de nuevo tipo y los del negocio de la contra, tanto dentro como fuera del pais, estos senores son los que corrompen a todos los blandos y debiles de mente y valores morales, son los que reclutan a los que le hacen el trabajo sucio, para no ser ellos los que sean senalados por el pueblo como sus enemigos, estos senores, son los que ocasionan un dano mayor que la contrarrevolucion interna, sino me creen vean el caso del omnibus accidentado en la provincia de Oriente en dias reciente, el caso de las 23 mil cabezas de ganado desaparecidas como por arte de magia en el 2011, es decir este es otro de los elementos que hay que eliminar de la fauna criolla, para que el pais recupere su vitalidad, moral y politica.

    Podriamos seguir con muchos otros acapites, pero creo que lo senalado, la dara suficiente informacion a la senorita que escribio este articulo, con espiritu derrotista, sin fe en el futuro del pais y sobre todo anorando otras cosas que no dice para no verse comprometida en este medio, donde ha expresado sus ideas con claridad diafana de decepcionada del socialismo y de su patria, triste futuro el de esta senorita, es una pena, pero esa ha sido su decision.

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