Cuba and the World’s Oldest Business

Nonardo Perea

foto: translatingcuba.com
foto: translatingcuba.com

HAVANA TIMES — On Sunday, October 12, I was invited to the birthday party of a close friend. A cousin of his had offered her apartment for the party. The apartment is close to Old Havana’s well-known Parque de la Fraternidad.

The owner has been legally renting out the two bedrooms in the apartment for two months. The day of the party, I wasn’t in the mood for drinking. During my stay, I only tried the occasional snack and enjoyed the company of my friends, who do drink and usually have a very good time under the influence of beer and rum.

The observant type, I saw that, in less than three hours, more than five girls and their partners (some young, others not-so-young), had gone in and out of the bedrooms. A group of four shared a room for half an hour (personally, I feel that half an hour is not much time for a foursome. You’re supposed to enjoy those kinds of things, right?)

Other girls would arrive and be told that the rooms were occupied. They would decide to sit and wait for their turn patiently, then go up into the bedroom to give their best and, most importantly, make a little cash with the sweat of their…brows.

A girl that caught my eye was a 20-year-old with a happy little face whom people called La Flaca (“Skin-and-Bones”). She was a regular customer, judging from the familiarity between her and the owners. “In a single day, she’s brought as many as ten different men here, of all skin-colors and ages,” my friend’s cousin said to me after she’d had a few drinks too many. Many of the girls who use the bedrooms come and go non-stop and, according to the owners, don’t ever rest, not in the morning or at night.

The price of room rental is relatively cheap: 1 CUC for half an hour. They sell beer at 1.50 CUC.

Right now, the owners of this business want to improve the conditions of the bedrooms, which aren’t bad (but, if they improve them a bit, they can charge a little more).

An excellent and very prosperous business, don’t you think?

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.


13 thoughts on “Cuba and the World’s Oldest Business

  • May 6, 2015 at 11:25 am
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    Your data is incorrect. Most Americans have more than $20 disposable income after necessary expenses per month.

    The US student load debt default rate dropped to 13.7% in 2014.

    Cubans do pay for education & healthcare. The government pays a salary of about $20 per month. That is equivalent to a 95% tax rate off the top, before they even see their pay check.

    Subsidized food rations are only sufficient to cover 2 weeks per month. The balance of the food must be obtained with hard currency, which is hard to come by if you don’t have a job in tourism, driving a taxi or in the new self-employed sector. Many Cubans are forced to resort to pilfering goods from work for sale on the black market, or prostitution, or some other under-the-table arrangement. This fact of daily life in Cuba is humiliating to most Cubans.

    Finally, the Cuban people never chose socialism. The Castro regime forced their corrupt socialist system onto Cuba, never allowing a free and fair election in 56 years.

  • May 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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    $20 or less per minute month. You are correct on that point, but your analysis falls apart for several other reasons, to wit, the average American has about $20 of disposable income after all reasonable and necessary expenses per month. That’s not even taking into account the student loan debt crisis wherein everyone seems to be defaulting. Cubans don’t pay for education, healthcare, and other necessities are greatly subsidized. In sum, their basic needs -and more- are met. Cuba is no Haiti nor Dominican Republic. Those are fair comparisons by the way. Poor countries have a choice, to share or not to share. Let’s not beat them up for choosing socialism.

  • November 20, 2014 at 8:01 am
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    True. 100% true.

  • October 23, 2014 at 9:15 am
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    Opportunities? In Cuba, a college education does not lead to a well paying job. The average salary of $20 per month is not enough to get by on, and most Cubans have to resort to some other means to make ends meet. That’s why in Cuba there are teachers, engineers and other well educated women and men working as taxi drivers, waiters and prostitutes.

  • October 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    Prostitution has been around for a long, long time in Cuba. Some aspects have changed, but some things remain the same. Although the Revolution did shut down the brothels, it did not end prostitution, but merely drove it underground. In recent years, prostitutes have returned openly to the streets.

    A particular aspect to prostitution in Cuba today is the fact that a growing number of Cuban women who work as teachers, engineers, or factory workers now turn to turning tricks part-time, to help pay the bills every month. Their salaries are not enough to put food on their table or clothes on their kids. Prostitution is now a way for ordinary Cubans to get by.

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