Public Sex in Havana

Vicente Morin Aguado

Entrance to a hostel on Monte St.
Entrance to a hostel on Monte St.

HAVANA TIMES — The most recent video to shock the world, revealing the hidden face of a society in a state of decomposition, is not exceptional. What’s different today is the fact cell phones have proliferated to all corners of the globe combined with Internet access.

There are plenty more stories to tell:

Two years ago, next to the entrance of the picturesque gothic church located on Reina Street, when the church was closed but the sun was still shining, a couple was making love. The parish priest asked them to stop after the neighbors drew his attention to it. As in the recent incident on the San Rafael promenade – which is an extremely busy place frequented by tourists – the police were conspicuously absent.

Days before President Obama’s visit, they carried out one of the customary raids to put away all vagrants who, in the government’s eyes, tarnish the city in the eyes of illustrious visitors. One of them escaped from a detention center. Speaking of his adventure, he recalls a number of details about his stay at the facility:

“A doctor was asking us questions. I told her I had a family, a wife, siblings and that my parents were alive, even though I’m already pushing 55. That place was a den of vice. Women would crouch in front of you and poop on the floor. There was even a couple having sex in front of everyone.”

Some facts should be reviewed before assessing these public sex incidents in the Cuban capital.

At night, out on the street, girls offer carnal pleasures in the vicinity of where they live. A phrase one often hears is: “Friend, let’s go at it under the stairs.” The rest consists in agreeing to a price, which is always lower than those set by “quality” working girls or men, who only sell their bodies in specific and well-known places, such as Aguila Street, between Reina and Monte.

We won’t speak of the much-maligned jineteras, who target tourism and endure persecution by the authorities.

Under the stairs means the space under the first steps in any building. Though somewhat hidden, the lovers are still having sex in public when they do it in such places.

Today, many of such spaces under stairwells are locked off, as residents seek protection from the lewd behavior.

Those who engage in public intercourse also go to parks, where one is no longer surprised to run into a heterosexual or homosexual couple not making much of an effort to conceal their actions, barely covered by the veil of night and their clothes.

Cases of deadly aggression between rival lovers have been reported – and those that have even involved law and order officials, who have become the victims of the uncontrollable violence that results from such encounters.

The issue is particularly serious because most of those implicated in these incidents are young people. Youth, as we know, is a time of impulsiveness and the release of energy, but, decades ago, such things didn’t happen. When two people wanted to have sex outside their homes, they would go to hostels, where they could rent a discrete, clean and cheap room.

There were over 200 such hostels in Havana, and they have all but disappeared. Today, they are making a comeback as tiny motels that are privately operated. After asking around, one of the owners of these motels told me: “We charge 50 pesos the hour. We accept couples of every sort, provided they respect the rules. There’s no homophobia here. We’re here to serve, this is a business.”

Today’s youth was raised without any such options. Such prices seem high to them and the service unnecessary. Proof of this is that those who practice these forms of amorous exhibitionism have total disregard for the moral norms of the city.

The incident at the San Rafael Boulevard is not exceptional. It is the most visible end of a social upheaval, sparked off by the growing crisis of values that scourges the county.

12 thoughts on “Public Sex in Havana

  • Just a brief comment to remember that the Spanish practiced genocide upon the innocent indigenous people of Cuba 500 years ago. Living in Cuba, I can assure you that the people of Cuba fit your description of “innocent underdogs” and remind you of the purpose of the CDR with senior officials actually trained by the East German Stasi proclaimed by one Fidel Castro: ‘so that everybody (ie: the regime) knows who lives on every block, what they do on every block, what relations they had with the tyranny (Batista’s rather than his own) in what activities are they involved and with whom they meet.”
    You may not have seen a CDR file, I have.

  • Where is there a single approval in anything written by myself or indeed by Moses, of Batista who left power over fifty seven years ago? I am opposed to any form of dictatorship whether it is the relatively brief period of that of Batista, for remember that first time around he was elected, or that of the Castro brothers which has now lasted over fifty seven years. Are you Mr. Haney opposed to dictatorship as I am? If so say so, or others may conclude that you approve it!

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  • I do not believe that cruel dictators supported by self-serving foreigners should prey on innocent, indigenous people. I further believe that the Batista-Mafia dictatorship and the Batistiano-Mafosi exiles have greatly harmed the image of the United States and democracy, my two prime concerns. So, I have no “deal” with anyone but I support innocent underdogs, especially when they are the victims of unchecked criminal activity.

  • “Slithering around,” Carlyle?? Is that different or more malignant than pro-Batistiano propaganda that covers up cruelty and terrorism?

  • You do insist on slithering around in the history of sixty years and more ago. Every schoolteacher in Cuba today was educated under the Castro system, with none having experience of the times that you discuss. Yet despite all the indoctrination in the classrooms, despite all the posters of a formerly vigorous Fidel with flowing beard, of Raul in military uniform, of Dr. Ernesto Guevara de Serna Lynch (you can call him ‘Che’),and all the painted graffiti like slogans of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba, younger generations of Cubans try to find ways of escaping ‘socialismo’. Their problem is simply that they are thinking as individuals not as part of the much extolled ‘mass’. I would never indulge in anti-Cuban propaganda as I have a deep admiration for the Cuban people and respect for their incredible tolerance. My Cuban family is extensive and employed in many different roles. They vary in age from two to eighty six, the older ones having survived all fifty seven years of the Castro communist dictatorship are rewarded with $8 a month as a pension. My wife a well qualified professional lady faithfully collects the rations once per month. I purchase the bread at the Panderia on most days – starting as ‘Ultimo” and at times waiting 40-60 minutes.
    You Rich Haney ought to comply with the ‘faith’ which you so constantly promote and “Act as a part of the mass, to think as an individual is criminal.” Dr. Ernesto Guevara de Serna Lynch.
    That is what the Castro family communist regime hopes to install in the breast of every Cuban – and to do so by threat and force!
    Any parent informing their child within their own home that there are alternatives to communism, can be sentenced to three years in jail.
    That is what you in your innocence, ignorance or is it malice, support.

  • That’s not what I’m talking about. There’s a Cuban saying. ….and obviously you can’t remember it either. By the way, what’s your deal with the Batista dictatorship?

  • Moses, what you are “talking about,” as usual, is right-wing anti-Cuban propaganda. You never fail to imply that what preceded “the Castros” in Cuba were lovable, sweet Mother Teresa-type rulers that governed the island for the benefit of the majority of its citizen. If that were true…if that was REMOTELY true…the Cuban Revolution and the Castros would never have happened. The brutal thieves — correctly called Batistianos and Mafiosi — that created the revolution unfortunately fled the rebel takeover only to regroup on U. S. soil, resulting in 6-decades of the U. S. Cuban narrative being dictated by the very people chased off the island by the revolution, with considerable help from self-serving politicos such as the Bush dynasty.. Of course, the U.S. Cuban narrative — which you obviously subscribe to — maintains that pre-revolutionary Cuba never had a single prostitute or single examples of illicit drug, gambling, etc., enterprises. And MOST OF ALL, according to your propaganda, there were no examples of brutality against innocent Cubans by the Batistianos on the island or later from U. S. soil. Now tell us why the William Soler Children’s Hospital in Cuba today is named for a murdered child who was among the children who were routinely victims of the Batistiano ploy to quell dissent in the peasant communities. OR TELL US WHY the U.S.-based Batistiano ploys to discourage tourism to Cuba included such things as deadly hotel bombings. OR TELL US WHY THE TERRORIST BOMBING OF CUBANA FLIGHT 455 WAS “THE BIGGEST BLOW YET AGAINST CASTRO” as registered in the Miami media. The Castros were created by the Batistiano extremism on the island and the Castros have been sustained all these decades by the extremes of the Batistianos on U. S. soil and in the U. S. Congress. If that is not so, Moses, explain WHY IT IS NOT SO to your multitude of readers.

  • Cuba has the difficulty that for many years the number of dwellings scarcely changed and young people have to live with their parents and grandparents in usually a two bedroom casa. Privacy is difficult to achieve and even although there are fewer bothering to get married, Cuba has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. But those who want to know about sex in Cuba can always go to the expert Mariela Castro Espin.

  • But….but….I thought the “triumph of the revolution” put an end to this? Could it possibly be that the situation is worse?! Oh my!

  • Cubans have a saying that I can’t fully remember but it implies that the only things in Cuba that the Castros don’t limit is sex and rum. Do you remember what I am talking about?

  • The police would come as fast as they can if someone is crying Freedom or Down with the Castro’s Dictatorship.

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