Hookers, an Anonymous Society / Laritza Diversent

Photo: Marco Paolluzo

On February 25, in a human-trafficking case, the Las Tunas Provincial Court recognized in Judgment No. 92 that the young Cuban women “were blinded in the presence of foreigners, seeing in them the possibility of wearing stylish clothing and shoes, and the ability to visit historic sites.”

The trial resulted in penalties for seven residents of Las Tunas, five of them for illegally renting space in their homes to an Italian citizen, who had sex with five young women (including two 16-year-olds and one 18-year old), between 2005 and 2010. The age of the other two was not mentioned.

The initial indictment was for a crime of procurement and human trafficking, although only three of those involved were convicted. The rest were fined for “illegal economic activity.” The owners, who were tried by the administrative clerk, were also punished with the confiscation of their homes.

Those involved were arrested in late March 2010. In August, the authorities found in the province of Granma the body of a 12-year-old girl, apparently murdered. In connection with this incident, three Italian citizens were arrested along with at least 12 residents in the eastern territory of the country.

After the discovery of the body, the authorities unleashed a major operation in Bayamo, which was concentrated on city residents who rented their homes to foreigners. Most of the houses were confiscated.

The preliminary investigation did not mention the Italian citizens arrested just two weeks after the crime or the girl’s links with foreigners. However, popular versions of the facts indicate that the child visited a rented house where they were holding a party with foreigners, and there she consumed high amounts of alcohol and drugs.

In June 2000, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called on the Government of Cuba to expand official programs so that Cubans could achieve economic independence and, thereby, eliminate the need to resort to prostitution.

Ten years later, in June 2010, the United States reaffirmed Cuba as a country where people are trafficked. Earlier, in 2003, the U.S. government had included the island on the black list for “not meeting minimum standards for eliminating trafficking in persons and not making significant efforts in this regard.” And it suggested that Cuba is “a source of children subjected to trafficking, especially for commercial exploitation within the country.”

For its part, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also recommended that the Cuban government analyze the causes of prostitution and the results of preventive and rehabilitative measures taken, in order to make them more effective.

The legislation in force in Cuba provides special protection to children under 14 years against the crimes of procurement and human trafficking. After that age, the same laws govern as those for adults.

Cuba actively prosecutes prostitutes, mostly young ones, under the criminal offense of pre-criminal dangerousness. In the majority of cases, for their rehabilitation, they are confined to correctional work farms. Criminal liability is acquired on the island at age 16.

Laritza Diversent, Diario de Cuba

Translated by Regina Anavy

April 30 2011