Prostitution in Cuba
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    Shame on Cuba: Blind Eye to Human Trafficking

    Shame on Cuba: Blind Eye to Human Trafficking
    Olivia Snow
    July 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    "If the girls give me trouble I hurt them." These are the words of human
    trafficker Aktham Zuhair Salem Madanat. Known for trafficking girls from
    Cuba to the United Kingom, Madanat had no qualms about openly discussing
    how he lured 10- and 11-year-old girls into the sex trade. In fact,
    Madanat is one of many involved in the lucrative human trafficking
    market throughout Cuba and beyond.

    In order to fight human trafficking, the State Department annually
    presents its Global Trafficking in Persons Report, a survey of 184
    countries that measures compliance with human trafficking regulations
    specified in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

    The 2011 Report places Cuba and Venezuela on the Tier 3 list.

    The Tier 3 designation is reserved for countries that do not comply with
    the minimum requirements in TVPA. Noncompliant countries receiving U.S.
    assistance can be sanctioned.

    Cuba's placement on Tier 3 is both warranted and necessary. Because
    prostitution is not criminalized for anyone over the age of 16, it is
    difficult to track child prostitution in Cuba. Economic malfeasance in
    Cuba has forced many young women into the sex-for-sale industry. Cuba's
    tourism industry generated around $2 billion just in the past year, and
    illicit sex is a burgeoning part of the tourism industry profile. In
    fact, it has been suggested that the Cuban government even encourages
    sex tourism as a source for foreign cash that keeps the communist regime

    Fidel and Raul Castro have turned a blind eye to sex tourism and human
    trafficking. One of Fidel Castro's flippant brush-offs included the

    There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner,
    to a tourist…Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily and without
    any need for it. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and
    quite healthy…

    Such cynical views have landed Cuba a spot on Tier 3. Cuba's blind eye
    toward sex tourism and human trafficking appears contradictory in a
    society where the state regulates virtually everything else.

    Venezuela, home to Castro ally Hugo Chávez, also experiences high levels
    of trafficking, where of the 40,000 to 50,000 sex trafficked children,
    78 percent are girls between the ages of 8 and 17. Venezuela's placement
    on Tier 3 is the result of a failure to enforce existing trafficking
    laws or enact new anti-trafficking legislation.

    Despite the large number of youth affected by human trafficking, Cuba
    and Venezuela continue to turn a blind eye to an age-old problem. It is
    striking how far these anti-American regimes will go to defy the U.S. in
    its efforts to eliminate the vestiges of modern-day slavery.

    Olivia Snow is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The
    Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage,
    please visit:

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