Friday, May 11, 2007

Sex, Lies and the Cuban State

Sex, Lies and the Cuban State

Cuban society is marked by sexual permissiveness and, though prostitution is illegal, a relaxed, laissez-faire attitude toward jineteras and foreign tourists. Casas particulares in many provinces are legally permitted to register chicas as the guests of their foreign clients. In the few municipalities that have ordinances forbidding such intercultural dalliances, casa owners complain that they are unfairly singled out and losing money because they are unable to rent out rooms to their most habitual clients. The shameless selling of sex may very well shock and repulse some visitors to the island. For Cuban tourism, it's a large and growing problem, no matter how blasé Cubans may appear to be. Foreign men on the prowl are a dollar-earning component of tourism not just for the girls but for the state, and the Cuban government, which touts itself as an exceptional promoter of social justice, can hardly be seen as complicit in the systematic abuse of its young women. Equally damaging for the state, the current situation harkens back to the rampant prostitution sex shows of pre-revolutionary days.

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