I Propose That the Government Legalize Prostitution / Iván García

Yaima Beltran, 32, wants to contribute to the public treasury. “I have spent 13 years practicing prostitution. I have gone to jail twice for hooking. And I always return. It’s not easy to go around scared at the prospect of getting caught by the police. I propose that President Raúl Castro legalize prostitution. I know his daughter Mariela wants to create a climate of tolerance toward gays. Shouldn’t they consider something similar with us prostitutes? Each person should be free to do what they want with their body.”

She isn’t the only one. Girls, who the day before got off a passenger train after a long, exhausting journey of 18 hours from a province in eastern Cuba, mill around in the areas near the National Highway.

On the cold nights of January they ply their trade. They wave brazenly at the vehicles traveling at 100 kilometers per hour. And if a driver stops, dazzled by the fine figure of a sculptural mulatto, without exchanging greetings, they make their offer.

Regina, 19, charges five dollars for a quickie in the back seat of a truck or an adjoining banana grove. She’s never been to the tank (prison), and just thinking about it makes her panic.

“It’s time now for a change of policy with hookers. It would be good for the government and the customers. We would have a health card, which would attest that we don’t have any sexually transmitted disease. And we would pay taxes,” says Regina.

Three black girls, regulars at fashionable discos, agree with Regina and Yaima. “To us it seems only fair to pay a tax for hooking. Sure, it shouldn’t be abusive. I don’t think any country in the world can abolish prostitution. With all the prostitutes there are in Cuba, the State is missing a chance to make money,” says one of them.

Perhaps one day the government will recognize the real causes of the phenomenon of prostitution after the triumph of the revolution in 1959. At times, the hookers are more effective for the local economy than a speech by Fidel Castro. Not a few businessmen sign contracts after being seduced by the ardor of a voluptuous Creole.

Almost all the young girls who become prostitutes do so in search of a visa or marriage to a foreigner. When they succeed, they often come back, turned into respectable ladies.

The Cuban regime does not accept the practice of prostitution. But a good part of the two million visitors who enter the island every year come with a lust that goes through the roof, eager to carry out their sexual fantasies with the greedy and appetizing Cuban women, who are cheap and cheerful.

Whether you like it or not, prostitutes are part of the publicity for tourism. Like music, cigars and rum. Either way, it’s unlikely that Raul Castro’s government will legalize prostitution. It goes against his doctrines. Even though they want to pay taxes.

Translated by Regina Anavy

February 2 2011