Prostitution in Cuba: Denied at Home, Enabled from Abroad

Graham Sowa

From the Cuban film “Los dioses rotos” (The Broken Gods).

HAVANA TIMES — In Cuba the denial of prostitution is a lie of omission: the government doesn’t really talk about it.  At the same time American politicians promote a travel ban that seriously damages United States efforts to identify and prosecute child sex tourism.

Few people in Cuba want to talk about prostitution.  I’ve been here for three years and I have yet to see any type of campaign against prostitution or sex tourism. Denial that prostitution is rampant in the tourist sector is an outright lie. Anyone who disagrees is invited to walk down Obispo Street with me (this is a serious offer). You will think the only services offered to tourists in Havana Vieja are taxis and blowjobs.

Police are often witness to the solicitation. I’ve never seen them intervene. I’m left to wonder if they are paid in-kind or in cash for their see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach to their job.

I know right now those readers who defend Cuba out of reactionary habit are preparing their anecdotal story about how sex crimes with minors are prosecuted in Cuba. And those stories are probably true. But they don’t originate from the official news here.

Not the crime, not the societal problem, not the obvious police corruption and not even the successful prosecution (of what I am left to imagine are a very small percentage of cases) are addressed at any level higher than street gossip among neighbors.

Child sex tourism (or child rape tourism as it should be known as) not only exists, but is literally killing Cuban children.  I refer here to a good piece of journalism from the Miami Herald about a 12 year old girl who was statutorily raped to death by European and Cuban tourists.

The Cuban authorities acted appropriately and tried and jailed the rapists.  Of course we read nothing in the local newspapers about the crime or punishment.

In a problem this grave both Cuba and the United States share blame. And while I would like to see both countries take a much more hard-line approach to child rape tourism that involves civil society; as a United States citizen I’m going to appeal to my homeland.

In the United States the story ran one day in the Miami-Herald and I could not find any syndication in other newspapers, not even the European ones.  So I can’t say my society is very interested in making this problem known either.

The same day the Toronto Star ran an article about child rape tourism in Cuba originating from Canada after a lengthy Canadian Government investigation of the sick enterprise.

But the Cuban problem in Cuba is only one half of the picture.  As far as the United States is concerned the extreme right Miami-Cuban community continues to support a travel ban that has made it all but impossible to track and prosecute child rapists for their pedophilic visits to Cuba.

The octagenarian anti-Fidelistas will sometimes harp on prostitution as a reason why the Revolution has failed.  (Even though I have no idea how they would ban it if they somehow took power again.  I can only imagine it would get worse with floods of Cuban-Americans returning to the island.)

But the Cuban-Americans never take the discussion about sex tourism further than superficial criticism because that would mean either stiffening the travel ban to unconstitutional proportions or ending it outright. They don’t have the courage or political capital to do the former and completely lack the intelligent foresight to do the latter.

An apt example is the Junior United States Senator from Florida (who knows just as much about Cuba as anyone else who has never been there) Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio recently spoon fed some tired rhetoric to a lobby group about how American travelers to Cuba treat the country as a “zoo”.

Obviously aside from knowing nothing about Cuba outside of Miami hearsay and gossip, Senator Rubio also knows nothing about American tourists. So let me tell Senator Rubio what most of us Americans know about ourselves: we, as Americans, pretty much treat everywhere we travel to like a zoo. (I encourage any doubters to watch the movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation.)

We even treat local tourism, within the United States, like a zoo. Look at Senator Rubio’s beloved Miami; whose tourist fueled party culture, fleeting decadence, silicon beauties, and millions of people stuck in a sad cultural limbo are as worthy as comparison to an animal prison as any Communist Caribbean island.

Few people in Cuba want to talk about prostitution. I’ve been here for three years and I have yet to see any type of campaign against prostitution or sex tourism. Denial that prostitution is rampant in the tourist sector is an outright lie. Anyone who disagrees is invited to walk down Obispo Street with me (this is a serious offer).

Instead of making predictable observations about American travel attitudes I think Senator Rubio would have been better off having a discussion on how the United States could do something to prevent child rape tourism to Cuba.  Because as it stands we are probably facilitating more than we are prosecuting.

Illegal travel to Cuba under the current United States travel ban usually involves passing through Mexico first, followed by the final leg to Cuba. Upon arrival in Cuba the Cuban Passport Control does not stamp United States passports. Instead they stamp a piece of paper inside of the passport.

Without a passport stamp the traveler is left with plausible deniability that they never traveled to Cuba. And with Cuban-American relations kept dismal by petty disputes perpetuated by feuding octogenarian neighbors there is no reason to expect Cuban cooperation in a United States investigation into crimes committed by a U.S. Citizen in Cuba.

So the situation, made possible by both Cuban and United States policies, is that a pedophile can travel to Cuba from the United States knowing that their home country will not be able to prosecute the crime.

In a problem this grave both Cuba and the United States share blame. And while I would like to see both countries take a much more hard-line approach to child rape tourism that involves civil society; as a United States citizen I’m going to appeal to my homeland.

As a country we need to decide if we are going to continue letting our differences with the Cuban government set the limits to the actions we will take to do what is right. If we know that people can use the travel ban to fly under the radar and rape children with little to no fear of getting caught shouldn’t we talk about ways to prevent that, regardless of what the Cubans are doing?

I think that legalizing all travel to Cuba, with the understanding that Cubans would stamp all United States passports and cooperate with United States law surrounding sex tourism, would help make child rape tourism to Cuba feasibly prosecutable as a federal crime under the PROTECT Act of April 2003. I hope other people will offer their thoughts, opinions or original ideas.


Graham Sowa: I've been living in Cuba for three years now. I would like to blame my obvious hair loss seen in this updated photo on the rigors of life here and medical school, but it is probably just genetic. I've made some of the strongest friendships during my time in Cuba from other writers on this website. The strength of those friendships has almost restored my faith that the online world can lead to offline and real life change. On that same note I've adjusted to using internet one or two hours a month. In the meantime I have rediscovered things like flipping through the pages of books, writing stuff down by hand, and having to admit that I don't know something instead of rapidly looking up the answer on Google while the teacher isn't looking.

57 thoughts on “Prostitution in Cuba: Denied at Home, Enabled from Abroad

  • Have any power in the World who can stop OLD trade in the society?

  • i was in cuba for 13 days 2 months ago. The police in Varadero and the police made me a extra 22 us dollors after i stayed up on the street one night after finding out debit cards not work in cuba. I tryed to complain after a taxi driver in a yellow stole about $250.00 cd The police would not write up a report. I went the cubian Consolute in toronto has not got back to from havana despite me going there 5 time to make complaint about the police. The cuban people in the country side are more afraid of the police than the trolls. I seen the police take $10 bride for 15 year girl having sex with a much older man. stephen 5193578686

  • Cuba does more to crack down on prostitution than any other government in the hemisphere including our own. I often see police stop a Cuban woman with a foreigner and ask for ID and even take her away. Cuba has no massage parlors, strip clubs or casinos.

  • I find the issue of prostitution troubling like most. It is likely the lowest and most violent form of commerce on the face of the earth. To think that one human being utilizes another as a physiological disposal container is revolting, to say the least.
    However, the phenomenon is not unique to Cuba. Prostitution is, likely, one of the oldest professions on the earth and shall remain while man (mostly) fail to realize and acknowledge the higher authority that is the true arbiter of human morality and behavior. The absence of which gives man license to indulge without restrain.
    Beyond that, prostitution is a choice. There are many who are poor, in Cuba and elsewhere, but choose to struggle to make a living without resorting to prostitution.

  • Sex for money and favors in cuba is rampant. you are either a girl in the discos and bars looking for quick cash, where sex for money and favors is basically your job, you are a “girlfriend” for hire on the side, or you are looking to bed a tourist legitimately so that he will send you money and cash and maybe marry you off the god for saken island where you have no future.

    No one disagrees that child prostitution is wrong and shameful. Period. Exclamation Point.

    However, this writer tries to suggest that the minimal travel by US citizens to Cuba is the cause or related to the prostitution. That’s a crock and not backed by any evidence. Cuba reports 2.4M tourists annually, of which 1M or more are coming from Canada! Likely why the Miami Herald story focused on a Candadian as the purveyor of young children, not anyone from the US. Most of the others from South America, Europe and Italy. US citizens are going there but we are not the drivers of this issue for Cuba. What two adults want to do is there business. But Cuba’s problems are not fueled by the US tourism there, what ever amounts exist. And yes, sex for money and favors has been on the island for years and years and years. So long as Cuba is a country that makes nothing of any value to the outside world, maintains a socialist structure and ignores the benefits of capitalism….prostitution will exist forever there just like much of the carribean.

    And maybe part of the story is the devolving culture in Cuba for many young people who don’t want to work or try for that matter, who accept there’s nothing for them, and who are eager for the quick cash that prostitution/sex for money and favors can bring them. These kids aren’t satisfied with just scraping by and see how their friends and others who do this can flourish there with phones and clothes and other items of luxury. This goes for the girls and guys who do it there. And maybe that’s OK, I don’t know. But I surely know it’s not the US’s fault, Canada’s fault or any other countries fault that its tourists are going there to vacation and enjoy the Island. Prostitution, the inception and it’s taking root there is all Cuba’s.

  • It is a big enough problem for international child protection organizations to state that “commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism” is rife in Cuba and that Cuba “replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists”, Dan Christensen.

    These organizations do not refer to the US in that manner.

    As far as your “presumptions” goes: they are blatant lies as usual. The study you referred to did in no way claim these were the “worst 12 countries”. That is just another of your typical lies.
    Cub just wasn’t included in the study most likely because the government refuses to provide data on this extensive problem in Cuba.

    The reports of these respected agencies above show that Cuba – unlike your pathetic claims – is a lot worse than the US and nearly all of the countries in the study.

  • Just how big a problem is it, compared to, say, that in the USA? In the study I cite above (see link above), the USA made it into what I presume are the 12 worst countries for rates of child prostitution. In that select group, the USA is 6th worst — between Brazil and the Philippines. Cuba didn’t even rate a mention in this comparative, international study.

    This is consistent with Wayne Smith’s assessment (see link above) that the problem is indeed much worse in the USA than in Cuba.

  • and it is Canada that arrested and prosecuted him, not Cuba.

  • Robert you are correct, Canadians are by far the dominant tourists in Cuba and are the largest group of sex tourists.
    I see it everyday it is a common sight in almost all hotels and resorts, although the paedophiles hide quite well.

  • Some reference material:

    Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

    Expanding tourism, together with other factors, has led to a growth of
    the leisure infrastructure. In connection with this, there has also
    been a growth of prostitution and cases of trafficking in humans,
    promoted by the difficult economic situation of the country since
    1990. Every day, new children are driven into prostitution, in order
    to earn something to contribute to the survival of their family. Many
    street children are abducted and subsequently become victims of
    commercial sexual exploitation. In their desperation, some fall for
    promises of well-paid jobs in the towns and cities. In recent years,
    the number of children in the towns and cities that are being sexually
    exploited has increased markedly. The press reports of cases in which
    foreign tourists have particularly asked for children below the age of

    “According to one report, Cuba is one of many countries that have
    replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex
    tourists. This trend is attributed to a concurrent drop in political
    restrictions on travel to Cuba and a crackdown on sex tourism in
    Southeast Asia, causing sex tourists to seek alternative
    destinations. In addition, Canadian and American tourists have
    contributed to a sharp increase in child prostitution and in the
    exploitation of women in Cuba. Canadian sex tourism is cited as being
    largely responsible for the revival of Havana brothels and child
    prostitution. ”

    Even British tourist reps were trained to prevent abuses:

    “Ecpat launched a Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in 1999 as a framework for tourism and travel trade organisations. Signatories commit themselves to educate representatives abroad about child sex tourism, raise public awareness and pass on information to “key” authorities. Although Abta says it supports the code, and encourages its members to sign up, only one has so far done so: TUI UK, which includes Thomson.

    It is training reps in five destinations: Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Goa and Mexico. “We believe it is our social responsibility as an operator to follow these guidelines,” a spokeswoman said. Several other companies – BA Holidays, Discovery Initiatives, Exodus and First Choice – have promised to implement the code by December this year.”
    Sex tourism: Travel trade slow to act
    The travel industry is not doing enough to prevent sex tourism, reports Charles Starmer-Smith
    12:01AM BST 13 Sep 2003″

  • ECPAT, the NGO that researches the situation has decried the rampant child prostitution in Cuba.
    As far as general prostitution being “rampant” in Cuba: have you ever driven by the Malecon at night?
    Prostitution is rife in all cities of Cuba. Santiago, Camaguey, Bayamo, … you name it, it is there.
    That has been confirmed by lots of sources.
    Read up:
    Stop trying to divert attention and address the issues Dan Christensen.

  • The respondent denies that prostitution, child prostitution in particular, is rampant as the article suggests. From what I have read (see links above), he is right, and the problem is probably much worse in the US. Yes, I know you don’t like comparisons with other countries. Too bad.

  • The Association of Cubans in Toronto is a front group for the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association, which in turn is a propaganda operation of the Cuban government. That they deny the problem exists, while claiming they are doing all to stop it, is proof of what Graham wrote above, that the official response in Cuba is blanket denial.

  • Again the projection. If you missed it, Graham criticized the US policies which contribute to this problem. I praised his piece, and added a comment about the lax policies in Canada and Europe which contribute to the problem.

    But it is you who refuse to listen to criticism of Cuba and can only talk about the bad ol’ USA.

  • A nice piece of propaganda, Dan Christensen.
    Countries should indeed stop sexual predators to travel to third world countries like Cuba, but that doesn’t change the fact the Cuban regime should do more to protect children. It is currently failing to do so.
    Blaming – in a mindless and absurd manner – prostitution – as any other problem – on the trade sanctions is ludicrous. It is the Castro regime that has destroyed the productive basis of Cuba and created the widespread poverty and need.

  • Cuba isn’t on the list of comparisons, Dan Christensen.
    It is identified by lots of organizations – like ECPAT – as sex tourist destination with high incidence of child abuse. The US isn’t.
    Nice attempt to divert attention, but the issue is Cuba.
    Your source doesn’t even mention the country as it wasn’t part of the study.


    In 1959 prostitution was rampant in Cuba, especially in areas of big cities, but was also present in small towns: it was a means of survival then. One of the first tasks undertaken by the Revolution after its triumph was to rescue all those women, by educating and providing them with jobs, so they could have a dignified life in the future.

    It is my belief that Cuba is aware of the problems that tourism may bring into the country, and consequent with its principles, has implemented harsh laws to tackle drug trafficking, child prostitution and prostitution itself; and imposes severe punishments on those individuals who engage in these kinds of acts, whether local or foreigners.

    It is a gross infamy to say that Cuba ignores or turns a blind eye to a matter where children are harmed. According to government sources “child prostitution is a minor problem and (the) Government has accorded it significant attention”. It is monstrous to make the Cuban government appear as an accomplice in child corruption, and it is unprofessional to manipulate and distort facts to present readers with the dishonest generalization that child prostitution is growing without check in Cuba. That is a complete fallacy.

    There’s possibly no other country in the world that has devoted more resources and effort to protect children as much as Cuba. According to the United Nations, Cuba is the only country in Latin America that has eradicated malnutrition in children, and has an infant mortality rate of 4.6, which is lower than that of some developed countries, including those where the article was written. Cuba provides schools, vaccination and all basic needs to its children; and that is a well known fact all over the world.

    Those countries that allow its sexual predators to travel to third world areas to prey on its most vulnerable sector, their children, bear responsibility for those crimes. They should share information about these individuals. It is clear that when it comes to the protection of children more cooperation is needed between the governments of countries where that tourism is originated and the receiving end.

    Despite the longest economic and financial blockade ever imposed in history on a country, Cuba, by a mighty power, the United States of America, and the continued and mounting hostility of the latter trying to suffocate its economy; the Cuban Revolution has struggled to provide its citizens with quality and sustainable education and comprehensive free health care. Cuba has the second highest life expectancy in Latin America and has elevated the dignity of its people by creating an environment of respect and solidarity among themselves and others. And these are facts, not manipulations.

    Julio Fonseca
    President, Association of Cubans in Toronto “Juan Gualberto Gómez

  • Also see a comparative study of child prostitution in 12 countries including Vietnam, Thailand, India, Indonesian, Philippines, Russian, Taiwan, Zambia, China, Brazil, Cambodia AND…. the good ol’ US of A. (The 12 worst offenders, I presume.)

    On the chart on p. 143, we see that rate of child prostitution for the USA is 6th highest in this group (between Brazil and the Philippines).

  • You really should read up on reality, Dan Christensen.
    Las Vegas has been profiling itself as a family destination for years.

    Decriminalizing prostitution is not “promoting sex tourism”, Dan Christensen. The UN even recommended it:
    “U.N. report calls for decriminalizing prostitution”

    Las Vegas, Nevada and the US are not listed as “sex tourist” destinations by international organizations. Cuba is. Cuba is in fact singled out for the child prostitution problems in the country.

    See: “Most people wouldn’t consider Nevada a hotspot for sex tourism. While Las Vegas has carried the Sin City moniker for decades, it was so named as much for its seedy nightlife as it was its gambling roots.”

  • The listing of Cuba by ECPAT and their reports clearly gives an independent and comparative status on Cuba, Dan Christensen.

    This highly respected organization has classified Cuba as a problem for child prostitution just like Thailand and the Philippines.

    As far Belgium goes: you are again confusing m with someone else so your remark is ludicrous on more than one level.

    Cuba is – by any standard and comparison – a sex tourism destination. That lots of sources have confirmed. The USA, Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, … aren’t.

    Those are the facts and however hard you try to divert attention with your ludicrous remarks (the US being 30 times larger will have numerically maybe a bigger problem), the fact is that international organizations have identified Cuba has having a structural problem.
    Your desperate attempts to defend the Cuban regime can’t change that fact.

  • I can see you don’t like comparisons with the US or other countries. Can’t blame you really.

  • You have no comparative data. As usual, you are simply making this up as you go, Paul. A knowledgeable and unbiased source like Wayne Smith, former head of the US Interest Section in Havana, has said, “Without question, child prostitution, child pornography and abuse of children are greater problems here [in the USA] than in Cuba.”

    Also see:

    In your own country, see: “Belgium has become the favored destination of Child Prostitution”

    Is that because the Belgian government actively promotes child prostitution?

  • Las Vegas USA openly promotes sex tourism — whether its tourists from abroad or just out-of-state. It doesn’t matter what the nationalities of the abusers are. And as far as we know, the problem of child prostitution is far worse in the USA.

  • Dan wrote, “So why focus on Cuba if your motives are not purely political.”

    Have you noticed this website is titled “Havana Times”…because it’s about Cuba. That’s why the articles and the comments you read here are mostly about Cuba. OK, you got that now?

  • There does not seem to any evidence that child prostitution is a bigger problem in Cuba than in the USA. The only comparison I have seen by a knowledgeable, unbiased source (Wayne Smith) suggests just the opposite. So why focus on Cuba if your motives are not purely political. If, as some apologists here suggest, it is the result of deliberate government policy in Cuba, that must be doubly so in the USA (or Mexico or even Belgium ).

  • Prostitution was never eliminated in Cuba, but it was reduced in the early years after the revolution when prostitutes were rounded up and sent to re-education camps. Moses raised an important point about how the destruction of traditional morality by the Revolution has allowed prostitution to return and even become far worse than ever before. So much for the socialist “New Man” !

    As T. S. Eliot wrote about the Russian Revolution, “By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”

  • The problem is worse in Cuba. It is a known sex tourist destination. Read up on what the press and specialized NGO’s have reported. The Us is no destination for sex tourism. Cuba is.

  • Prostitution was part of the Cuban life under Batista as it was in many Latin American countries.
    I wouldn’t say it was “worse”. I have never heard that there was that much child prostitution, according to an old Cuban friend of mine that was frowned upon by the pimps. The Malecon also wasn’t littered with prostitutes at the time.
    Prostitution was a “side show”. A hidden part of society. Not judged acceptable by most.
    Today prostitution is part and parcel of Cuban society and while the older generation still frowns about it, many younger people just see it as another way to make money. Moral norms have faded under the Castro regime.

    Child prostitution is no mere side effect of more permissive morals in Cuba. It is a consequence of the need people face.

  • Sex tourism is indeed “big business” for the Castro regime.
    that is why it is so unwilling to act against it.
    It is you that is the hypocrite Dan Christensen.

  • If I recall correctly, it was worse in Batista’s time. And as a matter of fact, they virtually eradicated it until the economic collapse of 1989 where plain old desperation made it resurface.

    As for child prostitution, thats the unwanted side effect of the laws governing sex amongst minors. If I recall correctly, they were changed after a FEEM congress in the 90’s by popular demand. Basically, the kids in high school were having sex in a massive scale and the government didn’t had other choice than lower the legal age to have sex or charge and imprison +50% of middle and high school because of statutory rape.

    Is hard to say how they are going to move to solve both issues, basically they need to legislate legal sex between underage kids while banning sex between kids and older people, while allowing certain latitude near the threshold age.

  • Graham wrote a good, balanced article about a serious problem. While he largely avoided putting a political slant on the piece, he did point out how the political relationship between the US and Cuba is impeding both sides from dealing with the problem. Graham was honest in the way he apportioned blame to both Cuban and Americans in this ongoing tragedy.

    At no point did I, or anybody else here, write that child prostitution does not exist in the US. It does, but that is a separate issue from the problem discussed in the article above. Yet for some reason, you feel compelled to resort to bashing the US and accuse people of being “all self-righteous”. You sound a tad defensive, Dan. Any reason for that? Are you engaged the usual leftist defensive projection whenever your favourite Communist dictatorship is criticized?

    Graham also mentioned a report in the Toronto Star about a Canadian citizen who has been charged with sex-tourism related charges. As a Canadian, I am particularly outraged at this creep and at my government’s apparently lax attitude in enforcing laws concerning known sex-offenders travelling to Cuba. This situation is in contrast to that of the US, given that Canada has relatively good relations with Cuba and no trade or tourism embargo.

    Graham, myself, and several other commenters have an honest appreciation of the complex issues surrounding this problem. While it does involve politics, it also transcends politics. One could argue that capitalism is all about the exploitation of people for money, and that prostitution is the ultimate form of such exploitation. One could also argue that a communist dictatorship is all about the enslavement of people and that prostitution is the ultimate form of enslavement. Don’t forget, the Cuban government is so eager for hard currency, they appear to be willing to turn a blind eye to this criminal exploitation of children by foreign tourists and Cuban citizens. You see, the political sword cuts both ways on this issue.

    I would hope descent people of all political persuasions can rise above the political biases and work to end this horrible crime against humanity, which child prostitution certainly is.

  • Good post, Graham! It strikes me as incredibly ironic that, according to Richard Haney’s book about the life of Celia Sanchez, she was incited to become a revolutionary because 10-year-old Maria Ochoa was kidnapped by Batista henchmen and raped to death by “tourists” they were catering to. So many years later, I wonder what Celia would have to say about this problem in Cubita bella.

  • It’s a problem because the morality of Abrahamic religions told our legal institutions so. Directly or indirectly.

    When Cuba was a ‘paradise of casinos and brothels’ in the Batista days, the problem did not reside in prostitution and gambling per se, but the fact that they were money-laundry facades for the Mafia and a symbol of how Cuba was their little ‘playground’.

    If one research a bit about the history of prostitution, we’ll find that thousands of years ago this was a sacred (!) activity that usually happened in temples (!!) so that people could be bonded (!!!) with the Gods by exploring their sexuality. In Ancient Greece a married woman was so submitted to her husband that many sought out prostitution as a way to become more independent.

    Progressively, this activity became a symbol of moral bankruptcy and an all-around taboo – prostitutes suffer enormous social prejudice and are often victims of violence. Even their clients suffer social prejudice in a lesser extent.

    In some countries this activity is seen with less prejudice by the law and both male and female prostitutes are not only entitled to get retired, but even night-clubs and brothels pay their taxes. In others it’s absolutely prohibited. Go figure.

  • Prostitution is present in all societies, Dan Christensen. It has been embedded in the fabric of society in one way or another for ages.

    The case of Cuba is very different as it has seen a massive increase of prostitution in all its forms and in child prostitution in particular over the last decades.

    The data shows that in comparison the situation is not a “Sunday school picnic” as your pathetic attempt at minimizing the serious problem in Cuba is.
    If it is a “Sunday school ^picnic”, it is one organized the by national association of pedophiles and “Johns”.

    The evidence presented by ECPAT and news media is far from anecdotal and spams decades. It shows widespread prostitution of young people of both sexes out of need. It also confirms wide abuses of children by sex tourists aided and abetted herein by local pimps and corrupt officials while the regime is seen not to act to protect tourist income that benefits the elite.

    Prostitution in Cuba is at least as ugly as anywhere else, an Christensen.

    Filled with vulnerable people that are abused by others.
    the fact some may dream of a white knight that takes them away from that life is just part of the tragedy.

    More on the horrendous situation in Cuba:

  • US sex tourism is big business. Remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, etc. And child prostitution is rampant in the US. (see link) So don’t get all self-righteous about Cuba’s relatively small problem in this area. You and your pals here are such hypocrites.

  • To my knowledge, the problem is not nearly as bad as it is in the US or many of its capitalist allies. Do you have any proof to the contrary?

  • The secret service in Columbia,the DEA in Panama and Bob Menéndez in the dominican,only in Cuba you say.

  • So what’s your point Dan? Are you saying that because there is prostitution in the US there is t any in Cuba? Or are you saying that because there is prostitution in the US then its ok to have it in Cuba?

    Graham makes a very important point in his column that because of the particular nature of the relationship between the US and Cuba, the island has become a destination for American sex tourism, or child rape tourism as it should more accurately be called.

    It must be be mentioned that some tourists from Canada, Europe and Latin America also participate in this depraved exploitation of Cuban children.

  • Do you deny prostitution – and child prostitution – is widespread in Cuba, Dan Christensen?

  • In the US, the free-market capitalism rules. So is free-market capitalism responsible for rampant prostitution of all kinds there?

    No doubt, the problem in Cuba, to the extent that it exists at all, would be a hundred times worse if you and your ilk have your way with Cuba again. Former head of the US Interest Section in Havana, Wayne Smith, has said the prostitution of all kinds is much worse in the US. (“Bush knows why ‘relatives’ are so important,” Wayne S. Smith, 2004)

  • So what is the problem with the US that all forms of prostitution are rampant there (see link)? Is it something inherent to capitalism? Are any capitalist societies free of prostitution? How does the extent of their problem compare with Cuba? My guess, Cuba is the proverbial Sunday school picnic compared to the US and many of its closest allies (e.g. Mexico).

    Some anecdotal evidence suggests that the ultimate goal of most so-called prostitution in Cuba is really just girls (including teenagers) trying to meet and marry rich foreigners. Factor out that, and most of the problem may all but disappear.

  • Dan Christensen as always refuses to address the issue at hand: prostitution – and child prostitution – in Cuba.
    As a Castro propagandist he just tries to divert attention.

  • Thank for for confirming that you can’t refute the fact that Cuba under Castro has become a haven for prostitution in general and child prostitution in particular.
    You can’t refute to facts so – as usual – you desperately try to change the subject.
    Address prostitution and child prostitution in Cuba, Dan.

  • Thank you for another insightful article, Graham! Even if criminal penalties were increased, however, I doubt it would significantly decrease the problem. At base, this is caused by economics, scarcity and the hopelessness of bettering one’s life. Amongst the more haunting images I take away from my last trip, in Sept. and Oct., is one of a young chica and her older European male “companion.” In the restaurant of a high-rise hotel overlooking the Parque de La Ciudad, she sat at a table, across from her partner, looking bored. Suddenly breaking her boredom, she looked beyond him, out the window and across the lake, as train, leaving Ciego de Avila on the opposite shore, gathered speed. She gazed at it longingly. If only such a train could take her away to a better life, one filled with hope and promise.

  • Prostitution is labeled ‘the oldest profession’ and exists everywhere and likely always will. The problem in Cuba is that what the Castros have done in destroying the moral and economic foundation has served to encourage not discourage this blight on society. Worse yet, while there are valid arguments on both sides about what goes on between consenting adults, there is no justification for taking advantage of children. Castros policies are up to their necks in accomodating this disgusting social abherrance.

  • ….so that makes it okay for Cuba?

  • There are many, many prostitutes in Miami from lots of different countries including Cuba, Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, including homegrown ones and others.

    And I know of even some scumbags who have gone from Miami and LA who with pride, brag about child sex in Cuba even though some so called Anglo-Cuban experts and former members of SWP/USA deny it.

    Its a problem everywhere…

  • I have traveled to Cuba many times ( illegally). Although the author is trying to blame Americans for the sex tourism, I have met very few Americans there outside of tour groups. I have seen numerous Canadian, Italian, and Spaniard old men with young Cuban women. If the Americans drop the embargo and tourists can travel freely, I agree that the Cuban government and the US work out an agreement to prosecute US sex tourists. Until then the government should start talking to the Canadian, Spanish, and Italian governments about this. I wonder how many members of the Miami Cuban exile community, who travel there freely, are going for sex tourism.

  • Politics shouldn’t enter in to this: this is about basic human values and a profound social tragedy.

    Regretfully everything in Cuba is politics as the regime controls all aspects of life.

    From the “sin city” of Varadero where people in Italy could order a room with a girl from the comfort of their local travel agency – staying in hotels owned by the Cuban military no less- over the fake “clean up raids” were hundreds of girls were “carted off ” to their home cities or just dropped in the countryside: prostitution was political and all about survival, the latter both for the regime and the people.

    Fidel Castro foul boast that the Cuban prostitutes were the “best educated” in the world over his denial that prostitution even existed in Cuba: all politics.

    The Cuban regime had no qualms accepting the “jineteras” as they were good for the state coffers and had equally no qualms to violent repress them – at certain times – to give the impression it was still morally sound. By its actions it has turned the “business” from a “free enterprise” where girls acted on their own to a racket with pimps (chulos) and protectors (corrupt police). Somewhere along the way the girls – and boys – became younger and younger.

    From trying to find a guy to escape the hopeless situation in Cuba – as it was for lots of girls – being “on the game” became a way of life and a living.

    The Castro regime has a lot to answer for.

    The regime destroyed the civic and moral values of the Cuban people. Out of necessity and despair the people became thieves – stealing from the state wasn’t morally reprehensible – and moved on from stealing from the state to stealing from their neighbors.

    Driven by the overwhelming desire to leave the country and provide for their families from abroad lots of girls looked for a foreign man and often settled for the first they could convince to take them. This went on on the streets in Cuba – where any women seen with a foreigner could be arrested for prostitution – and continued on the web in “dating sites”.

    The Cuban regime is the one responsible for creating all the circumstances that led to this human tragedy. Its incompetence and disregard for the value of the individual Cuban is to blame.

    The destruction of the social and moral of a whole society may be Fidel Castro’s biggest crime.

    More on prostitution in Cuba:

  • Question …where are all the ‘Cuban prostitutes’ in Miami? ANSWER: THEY DO NOT EXIST! FACE REALITY!
    Fidel Castro converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western hemisphere, a larger middle class than Switzerland, a huge influx of immigrants and whose workers enjoyed the 8th highest industrial wages in the world into one that repels Haitians. And this after being lavished with Soviet subsidies that totaled almost ten Marshall Plans (into a nation of 7 million) – an economic feat that defies not only the laws of economics but seemingly the very laws of physics. Try “blaming that” on the USA!

  • Graham, are you seriously blaming the US in any way and to any degree for all those fat, sleezy, smarmy bald Canadians, Italians, and Spanish sex tourists (and everybody else) who cruise the Malecon on the weekends looking for 14-year olds from the ‘Oriente’? Where are the parents of the youngsters? Where are the police? When these kids who obviously don’t have ‘jobs’ can send home $20 a week to their folks in Holguin, where do their parents think this money is coming from? If my kids came home with new clothes or an iPhone, believe me, questions would get answered. Do you know how many ‘Fidelistas’ rent out bedrooms in their homes for 10cuc an hour? How many doorman in those 3 and 4-star resorts in Varadero for $40 cuc make a phone call to summon some underage boy or girl to ‘spend time’ with some foreign perv. Here is my theory: When Fidel banished religion in Cuba, he set the stage for a moral collapse in Cuban society. Even in the most religious of countries, modernity is at war with morality. In the absence of a moral standard personified by grandmother who warns her granddaughter she will go to hell for wearing short skirts, or a next door neighbor who casts a judgemental eye when a young boy is spending too much time with older men you are left with moral catastrophe, No Apple computer store in Cuba and the US is guilty as charged. However the disturbing rise in all flavors of sex tourism and exploitation in Cuba is a homegrown disaster.

  • Excellent hard hitting column, Graham. You raised some very important new question about how the legitimate tourism industry, and the covert US tourist traffic preys on prostitution. Blame has to go to Cuba as well as to the home countries of the tourists: Europe, US and Canada. Nobody is doing what they need to do to deal with this scourge.

    Keep shining a bright light on this dark corner.

  • I fulfilled a lifelong ambition and spent 10 days in Cuba last year on a walking holiday, on our last two nights we stayed in a resort hotel in one of the larger cities in Cuba. We were shocked and horrified at the multitude of young girls with elderly men. Many of these men were Canadian and we even voiced our feelings to a couple of them who justified it by saying their financial support enables the girls to have a better quality of life. I am Irish by the way!

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