Sex On The Travel Menu

 Sex On The Travel Menu

A look at Jineterismo or prostitution in Cuba and how the government benefits from legalizing this most lucrative profession on the island.

Sex, A Cultural Value?

I first learned about the prostitution problem in Cuba in the 90s when I met my ex-husband, a Marielito and the grandson of a political prisoner. He’d often hold his hand to his heart as if to emphasize the heaviness of the sadness this fact brings to him and tell me about how single unaccompanied male tourists travel to Cuba from all over the world, e.g. Canada, Spain, Italy, Russia, and nearly every country except the U.S. to prey on young Cuban teenage girls and women. Cubans call these visitors “extranjeros.”

But I never imagined I’d see a video like this Day3 video from PlanetaJuan that undeniably and unquestionably demonstrates the cruel reality of young Cuban women that is jinterismo to confirm all these stories I had heard over the years.

Day3 Video of The Real Cuba from PlanetaJuan on YouTube

This problem of legal prostitution in communist Cuba has been an injustice faced by many Cubans, for decades now. The government does nothing to prohibit prostitution to protect its citizens despite the many laws they pass that oppress them.

All tourism in Cuba is government business, after all. In fact, all business in Cuba is government business, and by that, I mean the govt. pockets a large cut of all exchanges. Tourism is the one industry they very much prioritize over basic essential services like clean running water, infrastructure improvements, and effective solid waste management.

These extranjeros have more rights in Cuba than the Cuban people do. Sadly, the joke is on the Cuban people. In great Irony, Castro’s coup was in the spirit of keeping “extranjeros” out of Cuba, especially the Americans. At least that was what he wanted you to think.

But the truth is he created an island of Cuban slaves where foreigners are treated like respected privileged citizens, and the Castros enjoy a glamorous and luxurious royal lifestyle with the billions they stole, and continue to steal, from the Cuban people in exile.

The regime, as the govt. is commonly called, caters to these international tourists by building for them 5-star hotel resorts, granting them access to miles of beaches Cubans are not allowed to enjoy, and around-the-clock electricity while Cubans must endure daily power outages that spoil their foods and medicines.

Extranjeros are also allowed to own and build themselves homes such as this penthouse seen in this PlanetJuan’s Day1 video.

Unlike Cubans, extranjeros are free to leave and enter Cuba as they desire, while Cubans are not, as explained here. Cubans are not even allowed to travel freely within the island.

And sex is always on the travel menu for tourists in Cuba.

Prostitution in Cuba is yet another tourist attraction. But for many Cuban girls like Lola, A Girl From Havana, it’s not just the most lucrative profession monetarily, it is their path to freedom.

Though prostitution has been around for centuries, and is even known as the oldest profession in history, however taboo it is and still is; in Cuba, sex work is a recourse to survival.

Survival on a Cuban Salary

The sad truth is that no one can afford to live on a Cuban salary without several factors in place.

First, Cubans must have family in exile that is able to send them money through remittances. To escape Cuba has become big business for the Cuban government which profits significantly from every business transaction and activity that takes place in Cuba, such as the sale of airline tickets purchased for Cubans to leave with their approved Visas. For example, an airline ticket costs a non-Cuban tourist just a few hundred dollars compared to the cost to Cubans which can be anywhere between $3,000–$6,000 dollars per person.

Cubans who work for the govt steal food from those who don’t, who must wait hours in lines to purchase such products. They are not given these products for free, a common misconception among non-Cubans.

Cubans can generate income from engaging in work or service with tourists. In Cuba, making your living from tourists through “Jineterismo” or prostitution is perhaps the most lucrative legal profession of them all.

The reasons for these conditions are many and all lead to the Cuban’s govt’s ineffective and unfair governmental practices.

Image by Anne and Saturnino Miranda from Pixabay

Life Imitating Art

Though it was difficult to observe, watching this Day3 video from Colombian YouTuber PlanetaJuan stunned me because it was a real Life Imitates Art moment for me.

So many themes I introduced in my story, Lola, A Girl From Havana, were confirmed in this singular life account of a real Cuban prostitute or jinetera as PlanetaJuan describes in his video.

Like Lola in my story, the Cuban woman interviewed by Juan left school because she became pregnant. Though she had studied to become a teacher, she wound up getting a job at the stores where the tourists shop instead which conveniently brings her into close proximity to where she can find herself an “extranjero” to have sexual relations with in exchange for a measly $60.

She works every night, she admits. Cuban women “of high quality” make more than her she says But when you consider that a professional in Cuba such as a dentist or an engineer makes only $30/month while a pork leg for the entire family costs three times that amount (as shown in this video), the possibility of making $60/night as a prostitute seems like the only option.

In Cuba, prostitution with tourists is not only legal; but, encouraged by the govt regime. 63 years of communism has utterly destroyed the cultural Cuban value that was once represented by La Chaperona or the chaperone. Just look here and here at how Cuban teachers encourage similar behavior in schools. 

Like Lola, she also admits to YouTuber PlanetaJuan, that she believes there is no future for her in Cuba.

But, there is a heartbreaking distinction between  Lola and the girl in the video. Her son’s father is in prison. Suddenly Lola’s story didn’t seem as bad as it could be. I immediately wondered why her son’s father is in prison. Could he be in prison as a result of the July 11th protests, given her son’s age?

Like Lola, she hopes and dreams she will get lucky one day and find herself an extranejo or tourist to fall in love with her and help her get out of Cuba.

When you see signs on #SOSCuba protests or social media posts advising you to NOT visit Cuba, please know it’s because the money that you would invest into your vacation for your leisurely pleasure finances the Cuban govt.’s continued oppression and sexual exploitation of its people, including girls and women. Your money helps the government to encourage girls to pursue prostitution or jineterismo, out of sheer desperation, by making it the most lucrative profession in Cuba.


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