They Pick up the Prostitutes but Not the Trash on the Streets of Havana
/ Orlando Freire Santana
Posted on September 28, 2013
HAVANA, Cuba, September, www.cubanet.org – At almost the same moment
that Mariela Castro declared that Cuba only penalizes pandering, but not
prostitution, police officers in uniform and in plainclothes conducted
an operation against prostitutes who frequent Águila Street, between
Monte and Estrella, in the municipality of Centro Habana.
The place had lately become a stronghold of cheap prostitution in
Havana, basically targeted to domestic customers. For only six CUC — the
equivalent of six dollars — five for the prostitute and one for the rent
of the room, one can access those services. Of course, this "cheap
prostitution" is relative, as six CUC are a third of the monthly salary
of the average Cuban.
Veterans with experience in the meat trade alternated with young
newcomers from the interior of the country or girls from Havana who
decided to leave school and go out to "fight" for their daily bread. And
although that area, on more than one occasion, has been the target of
other police actions against prostitutes, repression never reached the
levels of bygone days. Just as Mariela, the sexologist of the ruling
dynasty ,also announced the upcoming celebration in Cuba of a symposium
on prostitution and sex tourism.
One of the girls who managed to escape the raid told us the modus
operandi of the authorities on that occasion. The first to act were the
uniformed police. They could not pick up many girls as they managed to
flee. A few hours later, when apparently it was all over and prostitutes
returned to their task, the repressive forces decided to change the
strategy. Some agents dressed in civilian clothes, approached the girls
and proposed a transaction. Once they were accepted, the agents
identified themselves and they were arrested right there.
According to the witness, the detainees were forced to board a police
truck and then driven to the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) Sector
located in Reina Street near the corner of Rayo. There a few were
released after receiving a warning letter — the first step to a
subsequent arrest — but most were taken to the cells at the police
station on Zanja Street, waiting for a trial that could condemn them to
several years in prison.
And while that stretch of Águila Street was witnessing such a manhunt,
very nearby, at the intersection of Angeles and Estrella Streets, a
giant trash dump threatened to worsen the already deteriorating hygienic
conditions faced by residents of that municipality and the rest of the city.
After the four containers for receiving solid waste were full, more than
20 or 30 yards of the street were occupied by wastes of all kinds. One
would think that the leaders of the Castro regime's planning decided to
remove the fuel from the Communal Service Department vehicles charged
with picking up the trash, and give it to the vehicles of the PNR that
undertook the "patriotic" labor of cleaning Havana's streets of prostitutes.
The Cuban leaders haven't been able to rid themselves of the habit of
constantly creating new campaigns to solve problems. First it was the
health campaign against dengue fever and cholera. Now, it seems, it
doesn't matter how many Cubans get sick. The priority in the days to
come is to get rid of the prostitutes so Mariela Castro can invite the
attendees of her symposium to roam the streets of Havana and to see for
themselves that the accusations that Cuba promotes prostitution, sex
tourism and trafficking, are mere fabrications by the enemy, intended to
denigrate the work begun by her uncle and now continued by her father.
Within several months, when Mariela's symposium is history, no one would
be surprised if Águila Street, between Monte and Estrella, is once again
overrun by new practitioners of the oldest of trades.
Orlando Freire Santana
From Cubanet, 24 September 2013
Source: "They Pick up the Prostitutes but Not the Trash on the Streets
of Havana / Orlando Freire Santana | Translating Cuba" -