Hookers and Thieves Could Increase With The Layoffs / Iván García

Troubled waters, a growth in the number of jineteras — prostitutes — and thieves. With the number of unemployed expected to be more than a million in the coming year, the streets of Havana will be getting more dangerous and cheap hookers will be the order of the day.

Loipa, 24, draws his weapon. After a stint in jail she thought she’d redeemed herself. And she started work as a receptionist at a business. But she was the first to be laid off.

The only option they offered her was as a farm laborer. Then she decided to return to the “trade” she knows best: hooker. “I don’t think the police presence will be too severe, I will be engaged in a lot of things. Now I’m going to offer my services, even in national currency, but in foreign currency, of course, if I can catch some ‘yuma‘ (foreigner). It will be hard. There aren’t enough tourists for the number of prostitutes in the country, there’s three of us for every one ‘yuma,'” commented this mulatta with expressive eyes and a striking mole under her mouth.

Competition in the prostitution world in Cuba is strong. There is a legion of teenagers between 14 and 17, still students, who spend their free time selling their bodies. Cheaply.

The crippling economic situation, that has lasted 21 years, and the growing number of hookers swarming the streets, has lowered prices in the island’s pleasure market. Already no outsider pays more than 30 convertible pesos (35 dollars) for a hot night with a whore. For 70 convertible pesos (85 dollars) you can take a couple of lesbians to your room.

When they give another turn to the screw of harsh living conditions in Cuban life, it’s not unreasonable to think that the number of “sex workers” will shoot up. The same as other illegal activities. The thieves are also having a field day.

In times of crisis and hardship, delinquency rears its head. Havana is not yet a city where violence is a problem. It’s far from being Caracas or Juarez. But so many unemployed people, with no future and empty wallets, is a perfect breeding ground for thugs to prosper.

The black market has dried up, leaving the residents of the poor neighborhoods, who live by doing “bisne” (business) under the table, few alternatives. The women, young or old, if they have a good butt and have grown up with the promiscuity, might be thrown into the street. Not to protest. To “search for bread” (prostitute themselves).

Black men, strong and athletic, could begin to try their luck as ‘pingueros‘ (‘dick-men’, i.e. toyboys), which until now has been the province of good-looking whites and mulattoes, gays and transvestites. Or they might “specialize” in stealing music equipment from the cars of tourists, or in the “art” of swiping the bags of visiting foreigners.

The news is very bad for the police force. A ton of disgusted people without money, who are trying to put food on the table by any means possible, and to dress in the latest fashions, is a more serious matter than it might seem.

Loipa has already gotten her start us a hooker. She lost fifteen pounds at the gym and is chasing after the first tourist to buy her two or three dresses, high heels and a nice perfume. That’s a starting point.

Her ultimate goal is that of any prostitute. To marry a foreigner with several credit cards in his pocket. Loipa’s hope is that the United States Congress will end the travel ban for Cuba.

“If this happens, I’m going to ‘hacer el santo‘ (make an offering to the gods). But all I want is just let the gringos come. I am waiting for them with my legs open,” she says, laughing.

Like Loipa, thousands of Cubans pray for this measure to pass. The Americans are seen as a lifeline. And not only by the hookers. Also by the Castro government.

October 7, 2010