How does one of the few remaining communist dictatorships keep it's economy afloat? It turns to it's young women and puts them on their backs.
Like many prostitutes who ply their trade in the darkened bars and discos near tourist hotels here, Maria says she does not go out every night. But whenever money gets tight and her 12-year-old son is hungry, she puts on a red miniskirt, puts rouge on her lips and heads for the El Conejito bar, a thinly disguised rendezvous point.
``Most of the tourists come to look for girls, tobacco, you know, the things they cannot get in their country,'' she said. ``They say the Cuban girls are very hot.''
These tourists, of course, are coming from Europe, an area of the globe fully familiar with dictators and bureaucratic control of government. All too often, they are not looking for a 36-year old woman such as Maria, but teenagers - the jiniteras.
Cuba is in desperate need of hard currency, and one way to acquire it is through European tourism, promoted through supplying Europeans what they "cannot get in their country." The Cuban women (and sometimes boys) are desperate for food, clothing and other necessities that cannot be supplied by the communists, so they sell what they have to sell.
Prostitution is illegal in Cuba, but a couple of researchers found it thriving - and cheap.
In Cuba there is no network of brothels, no organised system of bar prostitution, in fact, third party involvement in the organisation of prostitution is rare. Most women and girls are prostituting themselves independently. Since she is usually desperate, and he does not have to satisfy the greed of a third party, he can secure sexual access to her very cheaply. In Cuba, professional prostitutes will open negotiations by asking for $10 for oral sex or short fuck, but can often be beaten down to as little as US $2 to $4. Inexperienced women and girls can be persuaded and/or tricked into spending a whole night with a client for the cost of a meal, a few drinks or small gift. Sex tourists state that it costs them less to spend two weeks indulging themselves in Cuba than it does in other centres of sex tourism, such as the Philippines and Thailand. This is partly because they are not paying a third party and partly because competition between prostitutes lowers prices. Prostitutes will entice tourists away from each other with offers of better deals (for example, cheap accommodation plus sexual access, rather than cheap sexual access alone).
What about AIDS? Maria says she's worried about it, so she always requires the use of a condom. Cuba has the lowest AIDS infection rate in the Western Hemisphere - only 0.1%. The government says the rate is so low because of its education program. The government is ignoring Los Cocos Sanatorium.
In the 1980s, the government tested Cubans for the HIV, and those who had it were sent to Los Cocos. As the BBC reports, those people have never been released. Now, two decades later, there's a typical European/UN spin on the violation of human rights.
"We disagreed profoundly at the time when Cuba was quarantining, or locking up people with HIV," says the executive director of UNAIDS, Dr Peter Piot.
"There are norms and values that you have to respect."
But the evidence is that the tactic worked.
Cuba now has one of the very lowest Aids infection rates in the world.
These idiots praise castro for locking up disease sufferers. These are the same folks who nearly rioted in the streets when school officials in the US discussed keeping AIDS infected children out of school until enough was known about how the infection was spread. Once again, castro apologists.
Read the entire BBC story linked above. You'll find such astounding paragraphs as:
Those who develop Aids are well looked after. Cuban doctors may earn just $15 a month - but the treatment they offer is comparable with the world's richest countries.
Even the drugs are the same - copied by Cuban physicians from the patented versions.
So, it's OK to pay doctors starvation wages and to steal the hard work of scientists and companies in the free world. The BBC acknowledges that the sex tourism industry in propping up the economy.
Cubans were once able to depend on the state to provide for almost all their needs. Now, with those Soviet subsidies gone, they are increasingly having to fend for themselves.
Much of Cuba's success in combating Aids can be attributed to that fact this is a society where public good has taken preference over private freedom.
I'd like to know when the BBC believes Cubans could ever depend on the state to provide for their needs. Any study of Cuban history under castro shows shortages and long lines. I'm most astounded that the BBC thinks the public good is served by locking up people who have committed no crime.
The public good is served by freedom. Freedom will come to Cuba when the world turns it's attention there and ends the castro government. The leftists and transnational progressives (tranzies) have had the loudest voices when it comes to Cuba. Let's make freedom the loudest voice.
Cuba Libre in 2005.
Update - Mahone Speaks - After reading Juan's comments on prevalence of prostitution in Cuba, and the cheap rates at which women desperate to feed themselves and their families could be had, I was reminded of a line from a movie staring Mel Gibson, called "A Year Of Living Dangerously." A one point in the movie, several reporters are visiting a red light district in far Eastern country. As one comments on all the various sex acts you can get, and how hot the prostitutes are, another retorts. "Yes. Hunger is a great aphrodisiac."