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Moral Relativism And Jineteras
Thursday, August 04, 2005 By: Juan Paxety
Avoiding the name of castro
Moral relativism is now attempting to explain away the terrible economy of Cuba - and the jineteras. The Boston Globe posts a review of a new book "Dirty Blonde and half-Cuban" by Lisa Wixon. It's described as a part-truth, part-fiction account of the return to Cuba of her main character, Alysia Vilar, who was born in Cuba, the product of an affair between a Cuban man and an American diplomat. Alysia was reared in the U.S. but returned to Cuba to find her father.
Wixon claims to steer clear of politics by avoiding in her book certain words - words such as castro, Guantanamo and Elian.
Wixon spent a year in Cuba researching, and she determined that Cuba is more European than Caribbean, that people are paid in pesos but life's necessities require dollars, and that, in her words, professionals and practicing doctors must work as jineteras.
The word ''jinetera" is Spanish for a female jockey, and these women (and men, the ''jineteros") are skilled at manipulating their beasts. They have to be; their families rely on the money. Jineteras are not prostitutes but courtesans, crafting long-term relationships with the people who support them -- a distinction that Wixon is careful to emphasize. She compares jineteras to the Greek hetairai, educated women who serviced, entertained, and ''gallivanted with powerful men while their wives toiled in domesticity, bearing children and keeping house."
''Prostitutes accept pay for one night," Camila, a cardiac surgeon and a jinetera, tells Alysia. ''Jineteras use their education and skills to weave fantasies of love."
Of course, Alysia weaves her own fantasy throughout the book. She becomes an jinetera herself.
I haven't read the book myself. One paragraph from the review indicates it might not be a waste of time.
The picture that Wixon paints of life in Havana is both seedy and seductive, and she makes the case that pride and family are more important to many Cubans than the myriad luxuries that the US embargo makes impossible. ''Don't ever feel sorry for a Cuban," Alysia's friend Rafael tells her as he shows her photos of ''extranjeros," foreigners he's romanced and swindled. ''We're smarter than the extranjeros. We let them believe they have the upper hand and are in control."
By avoiding even the mention of the name of fidel castro, Wixon avoids mentioning who is really in control.