Sex, money, desperation
Why do so many ugly, beer-bellied sixtysomething European men love visiting Cuba?As Reuters reporter Catherine Bremer has found out, it's not the sunshine. Or the historic sites. Or the sandy beaches. Or even the cigars ...Ms Bremer's report is not pretty. In fact, it's a terrible story. And unfortunately, it carries the totally misleading, totally stupid heading, "Dollars can still buy love in Cuba". No, they don't. Dollars buy sex in Cuba. Cheap sex.One other point: the article makes the astonishing claim that "Cuban leader Fidel Castro hates sex tourism", referring to how Castro closed down brothels in Havana during the first few months of the Revolution.Well, that may have been the case in 1959. But the fact is that 48 years later, Castro is quite comfortable with "sex tourism" - and the dollars (and Euros) that flow directly or otherwise into his regime's coffers.
HERE IS THAT TERRIBLE STORY:
WITNESS: Dollars can still buy love in Cuba Fri Apr 27 18:56:47 UTC 2007
Catherine Bremer is a Reuters correspondent based in Mexico City since 2004 with occasional reporting trips elsewhere in Latin America, covering everything from elections to mudslides. She previously worked for Reuters in Paris, Brussels and London.
By Catherine Bremer
ISLE OF YOUTH, Cuba (Reuters) - Grease dribbling through his fingers, the Italian gobbles up two fried lobsters while the girl, young enough to be his granddaughter, picks at some rice and waits.
Facing them, I picture his chubby hands on this pretty 20-year-old mulatta and think about the thin wall between their bedroom and the one I've just rented in this Cuban family home.
I know this goes on everywhere from Brazil to Thailand, but I still feel like telling this leathery old man, with his big gold chain, vest and shorts, that he's a creep, and finding a hotel.
I bite my tongue though, and while the girl watches a Brazilian soap opera, I pour some rum. On the terrace, the man tells me he's a retired Sicilian executive who spends half the year here enjoying the young women.
"Is that so?" I say, trying to look as if I find this an admirable way to spend one's golden years. "That must be quite a few girls."
"Eighty," he smirks. "Well. At least 40 or 50.
"Cuban girls are different from you Europeans. They aren't prudish. In bed, they do everything. If she's not interested, I kick her out and get another one."
When I remark on his age, somewhere over 60, he springs to his feet, beats his chest and flexes his arms.
"I'm a lion! I have the body of a 40-year-old. In bed, I'm 25," he cries. "I don't even need Viagra."
Foreigners have come to Cuba for years seeking escorts for nights out and sex in exchange for gifts or cash to help the family. Cubans dub them "yumas", a term adopted for Americans after a 1957 western set in the town of Yuma on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Traveling here a decade ago, when Cubans were going hungry from the loss of Soviet aid, I saw countless beer-bellied foreign men smooching young women, and mid-forties women with hot young Cuban guys.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro hates sex tourism. After the 1959 revolution, he razed the brothels that had flourished under strongman Fulgencio Batista and he outlawed underage sex and pornography.
The government has also cracked down on hustlers, known here as "jineteros", in recent years, and the trade is now less visible.
But tourists are still like walking bank vaults in the two-tiered economy of Cuban and convertible pesos. The dollars I brought for a three-week stay equate to eight years' of state peso wages -- hence the torrent of romantic propositions.
On the sleepy Isle of Youth off Cuba's south coast, the Italian calls his girlfriend. She flounces out, a cinnamon-hued goddess in a tight "Italia" T-shirt and tiny pink shorts, and flashes me a smile.
Draped in gold jewelry, she is halfway through a law degree, but her yuma has brought her family more wealth in a few visits than several years on a Cuban lawyer's wage would.
"In my country you'd have a boyfriend like Brad Pitt," I joke. She giggles. The Italian slaps her thigh.
"She does not have the head of a European," he says. "She has the T-shirt of Italy but in the head she is Cuban. Right, sweetie?"
With everything from clothes to CD players out of reach of most Cubans, a wealthy tourist is still a tempting prospect for many.
Our hostess appears and fawns over the Italian. "He is one of the family," she coos. "The whole neighborhood loves him."
Rent-paying foreigners have made a palace of her house, with a paved garden, garish china ornaments and a stereo player.
Neighbors share the leftovers from our dinner. One asks the Italian for some coins. Like a Godfather, he's driving a mini-economy and loving it.
While the lovebirds head for bed my hostess shows me photographs of her daughter's "quinceanera", or 15th birthday, which marks a coming of age for girls in many Spanish-speaking countries.
"She's pretty," I say, admiring the showy ball gowns and skimpy outfits in the photos. "Will she get a yuma one day?"
"A yuma?" the mother snaps. "I would kill her."
"Nobody is in agreement…It’s that, no one says it and no one takes the risk to say it, to speak the truth. That’s what is happening. In other words, one of the foundations, of what are the regimes in the entire world, in all of history, has been fear and lies. In other words, once you are in fear that's when you don’t take a risk, where you collect yourself and don’t unite…understood? To be in fear is not to offer help to anyone because that signifies risk." -Gorki Águila Carrasco, lead singer, guitarist of the music group Porno Para Ricardo and political prisoner
"Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand." --Jose Marti
View Che Guevara's Forgotten Victims on Scribd
Monday, April 30, 2007
Sex, money, desperation