Does Human Trafficking Exist in Cuba or Not? / Victor Ariel Gonzalez, CID


“Cuba is not the place of origin, transit or destination of human trafficking”.  This was declared by Isabel Moya Richard, the director of ’Editorial de la Mujer’ (A Cuban Women’s Federation publisher) on November 1.  However, later in the article it is stated that in 2012 fourteen people were convicted of trafficking.  So, the phenomenon does exist.

The aforementioned director recognises that it is important to prevent these practices through an orientation towards healthy sexuality, implementing “sexual education in all levels of education”.

She adds that “another key matter is the work of the Ministry of Tourism to avoid campaigns that could associate Cuba with ’sexual tourism’”.  The matter “is not easy” given the advertising image of a paradisaical beach (main natural resource for Cuban tourism) upon which usually walks a woman whose figure indirectly offers to the visitor the possibility of finding sexual pleasure.  This aesthetic concept implies a distortion of the female image and its association with a product that sells.  Paradoxically, this phenomenon, equally common in western market economies, has been criticised by the Cuban government, that for reasons of “avoiding turning women into merchandise” has gone so far as to prohibit the possession of pornography.

In various civil independent society publications, foreign as well as Cuban, accounts appear that bear witness to the sexual exploitation of Cuban adolescent victims. They speak of families that agree to “offer” their daughters to a foreigner who promises to take them with him to give them a better life and in this way the girl is able to help those who she leaves behind.

Prostitution is a hidden subject in Cuba. The critical economic situation has contributed to the growth of this phenomenon in recent years to never before seen levels.

In respect to human trafficking we can also include those who are victims of irregular migratory trafficking.  Although it is not necessarily related to prostitution, conditions in Cuba also give rise to a high number of illegal immigrants, those who pay exorbitant prices to arrive to the U.S.A. by sea or via third countries such as Mexico.  The price of a “ticket” is above 8,000 CUC.

By Victor Ariel González

16 November 2013

Translated by Peter W Davies