Irina Pino

Havana business selling religious ornaments.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Havana business selling religious ornaments. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — My friend Inga was seduced by a Cuban hustler. They met at a party, danced salsa, had drinks, talked for hours and ended up having sex up on the roof terrace. A passionate string of events that left my foreign friend dazzled.

I was privy to their romance. Most of the time, she would turn a deaf ear on my advice and wasn’t aware that Ernesto was putting on a show of kindness. She would believe the cheesy things he said to her and put stock in what he said about Cuban art. He fooled her that way. To top things off, they would then have fantastic sex.

A passionate romance blossomed. He suggested they move in together, as he didn’t have a place of his own. The young man from Las Tunas was staying at friends’ homes and worked as the assistant of a painter who sold his work at the Cathedral in Old Havana. The woman, who’d come to Cuba to study, had rented a place in Playa.

Everything worked well for a few months, until he asked her to marry him and she said no, telling him she was still too young and didn’t want that kind of commitment yet. But he convinced her that it would be spiritually rewarding to get married under the Yoruba religion. She gave in; taken away by the mystical stories he wove for her. A dark seed began to sprout at the heart of that peculiar wedding, however: he wanted her to fully commit to the religion, as he was a Shango initiate and he wanted to be with someone who shared his beliefs.

So they started a series of ceremonies involving Inga which she of course had to pay for. She spent a lot of money and, in addition, had to be initiated into the religion.

She had to consult her godmother, go through ritual cleansing processes, take part in initiation ceremonies, pay for animals and a thousand other things that led her to ask for large sums of money from her family in Sweden, as the allowance they sent regularly wasn’t enough.

They finally held the religious wedding, with two plaster figures that resembled them.

I kept telling her not to go through with it, that it was all a scam, but she didn’t listen…until things exploded: we found out through a friend that Ernesto was saving up money to buy a room for himself. The best part is that he and his godmother had put together the whole scam and were splitting Inga’s money.

That was the end of that sham-relationship. She went back to her country, disgusted from it all. She’s never come back in years. She writes me, telling me she’ll only come as a tourist. She’s not interested in romantic relations with Cubans, much less with charlatans who use their religion for personal profit.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

10 thoughts on “Seduced by a Cuban

  • I read the delusional comment of “Monseigneur Gomezz” with great sadness. It is a mark of ignorance and low self esteem to believe one ethnic group has the best male lovers, as if sex is some kind of male performance and not a mutual interaction between two people. Regarding con artists romantically seducing tourists, desperate people do desperate things.

    Although the Castro regime tried to reduce the harm perpetrated against descendants of the enslaved, white supremacy is prevalent in Cuba.

    Afro Cubans live in the most neglected parts of the urban areas, especially in Havana. Of Cuba’s large prison population of 100,000, approximately 70 per cent are estimated to be Afro Cubans. They have also been economically marginalized and in keeping with the colonial tradition of itinerant trading they have had to create their own income generating opportunities. This is particularly in the informal sector and in the ‘underground’ economy that surrounds the tourist industry.

    The move towards free-market reforms and tourism-led growth has not provided opportunity for Afro-Cubans at the most advantageous personal levels. Furthermore the nature of the growth of this sector might have further disadvantaged them.

    The European-oriented tourism boom has tended to benefit wealthier Cubans who own property and vehicles, while the enclave nature of Cuban tourism means that Afro-Cubans – like most other Cubans who are not directly involved in the formal tourism service sector – are limited from interacting with foreigners. This means they are often prevented from entering hotels or going to certain beaches and tend to be restricted to working on the fringes of the tourist industry providing sex services and other forms of itinerant ‘hustling’.

    In part this has been a direct result of the increased marketing of Afro-Cuban culture as an exotic commodity for the Euro-oriented tourism industry. Afro-Cubans have therefore been doubly disadvantaged. Not only are they now blamed for participating in these activities but instead of promoting more contemplative socio-cultural aspects of the Afro-Cuban reality the trend away from the exotic is now being replaced by policies that sell Cuba primarily as an Iberian influenced destination for tourists from Spain, Italy, and South America; further alienating Afro-Cubans from participation. This growing hegemony of Spanish culture has also included direct subsidies from Spain.

    There are other areas of the economy that have produced a greater social divide. The large numbers of white Cubans abroad are able to send remittances back from the US and Spain thereby placing their relatives in a better economic position.

    The arrival of foreign businesses in search of joint ventures has not improved conditions for Afro-Cubans in other parts of the formal economy. Since ‘white’ Cubans largely dominate the emerging capitalist sector, historical prejudices ensure that Afro-Cubans are not sought out to be included in startup entrepreneurial ventures either as managers or workers. As a result, Afro-Cubans receive little of the hard currency now essential for buying basic consumer items that are needed for everyday survival and a decent quality of life.

  • Every victimizer has to live with the harm they’ve caused others. We are one. When you harm others, you harm yourself.

  • OK, your comments are unfounded and over-the-top. Let’s just agree to disagree.

  • Take all the exception you want, as I take exception as a Cuban of your obsession against Fidel y Raúl. Human relations in the developed world are not only poor, but atrocious. This also includes the legacy of slavery in the USA amongst both Whites and African Americans: Racism, Black on Black violence, police violence against Black and Brown people and reverse racism (the Mandingo poo-poo). Then there is Sexism in all North American communities, fatherless families, lack of intimacy, Me-ism, electronic isolation and escapism, the loneliness expressed by the smart-phone craze…
    But this Mandingo poo-poo was thrown at you by White people for their own purposes. It has nothing to do with who goes to Cuba to get laid; they are White from the developed world, and many get satisfaction, emotional and sexual, for the first time in their lives.
    And we like sex, having had no Puritan era, no Calvin, Prebster, Mennon, Luther or Cromwell. Our culture is not repressed in that respect like that of the Europeans and their descendants. As far as the Catholic Church goes, we all know how fond of covert sexuality these Spanish priests were and are, and we always had the support of our African Culture (we kept ours, all 5 of them; you have had to invent yours.), which was not puritanical or repressed in such ways. It’s not that we have a corner on sex, but that we like it, all of it, many other cultures do also. Hungarians, for example win the Euro Sex Survey title year after year in Duration and Frequency; Brazilians take the crown in South America, Thais in most of Asia. Beyond that, we Cubans come from a romantic tradition which includes a lot more tenderness and touching and sweet-talking than any other North American Culture. Be certain that, pound per pound, Cubans are a lot more sexual than North Americans and Europeans hands down (except Hungary, Go Magyars!).

  • I’ve heard so many sad variations of this story. At least they didn’t move together back to Europe, where, after esposo cubano achieved his legal residency status, he probably would have quickly dumped starstruck European wife. She sounds really young to have fallen for romantic cliches. I’ve seen a lot of monetizing of Santeria with tourists, and the marriage scams, but the combination of the two is a new angle. The sacrilegious icing on the wedding cake.

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