Prostitution in Cuba
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    Cuba’s most horrifying episode of child sex tourism resulted in a girl’s death

    Cuba's most horrifying episode of child sex tourism resulted in a girl's


    In May, 2010, Lilian Ramirez Espinosa, along with three other Cuban

    adolescents, was part of a sex party involving foreigners. Lilian ended

    up dying, though it's still not clear how.

    Cuban lawyer Laritza Diversent says the authorities reacted to the fact

    children were involved in prostitution only when one of them died.

    By: Juan Tamayo Special to the Star, Published on Sat Mar 16 2013

    For the two Cuban girls, 12 and 13 years old, it was just another sex

    party with foreign tourists — videotaped, fueled by marijuana and

    alcohol, and involving sex with both men and women.

    But this time, 12-year-old Lilian Ramirez Espinosa, who suffered from

    asthma, gasped and blacked out, according to court documents in the

    case. Her badly decomposed body was found five days later on the

    isolated outskirts of the eastern city of Bayamo.

    The girls "had been prostituting themselves for six months, but one of

    them had to die before the authorities noticed," says Havana lawyer

    Laritza Diversent, who is helping with the appeal by one of the

    defendants in the case.

    "(The girls) had been prostituting themselves for six months, but one of

    them had to die before the authorities noticed."

    Laritza Diversent

    Havana lawyer

    Lilian's death on May 14, 2010 is the best known and most horrifying

    example of child prostitution to emerge from Cuba since sex tourism

    began to blossom there in the early 1990s.

    Canadian, Spanish and other male tourists are flying regularly to the

    communist-ruled island to have sex with minors, a joint investigation by

    the Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald has found.

    The Cuban regime "resists discussion of issues that might suggest

    weaknesses in the governing and social system," says a report on child

    sex tourism written by U.S. diplomats in Havana in 2010.


    Part 1: Toronto sex offender could be first Canadian convicted of

    child sex tourism in Cuba

    More on this series

    Diversent says she was not surprised that girls as young as the ones in

    Bayamo were having sex for pay in a country where kids usually start

    having sex at the age of 12 or 13 and families face shortages of

    everything from tomatoes to lipstick.

    "The only thing never rationed was sex," she told Star and El Nuevo

    Herald journalists in Havana.

    What was surprising, she added, was that three Italians and 10 Cubans

    were tried and convicted in Lilian's death.

    Simone Pini, 45, and Angelo Malavasi, 48, are serving 25-year prison

    sentences for murder and corruption of minors while Luigi Sartorio, 48,

    was sentenced to 20 years. The Cubans received sentences ranging from 20

    to 30 years.

    Diversent, who is helping with Pini's appeal and has copies of all the

    documents from the trial in September 2011, said that while a few

    aspects of the case remain unclear, she does not doubt that the two

    girls were prostituting themselves.

    Lilian had already had "love relations" with four Cuban males aged 14 to

    25, the lawyers added in a telephone interview, reading from a police

    report. And the sex parties had been going on since mid-2009.

    Nancy Munoz Yero, the mother of one of the Cuban adults convicted in the

    case, said Lilian and a girlfriend were known to hang around with

    foreigners visiting Bayamo, as well as adult local men.

    Pini said that he did not know any of the girls and nothing about any

    sex parties, but added that Bayamo residents had told him during the

    trial that the girls "did their little things. They didn't play with dolls."

    The court's final ruling in the case never mentions the word

    prostitution, Diversent says, although it notes that some of the girls

    at the sex parties received cash or gifts such as clothes.

    One of three prosecution videos presented at the trial shows one

    13-year-old recounting sex encounters with both foreigners and Cubans,

    both men and women, with what Diversent called "horrifying casualness."

    The videos also show some of the defendants re-creating the events in

    the home and bedroom where they took place, as well as the recovery of

    Lilian's body. They were posted on the Internet by the dissident news

    agency Hablemos Press.

    Lilian and a 13-year-old girl were picked up by Pini and a Cuban youth

    year a Bayamo middle school for a party, according to one of the videos.

    The court ruling indicated two other girls aged 13 and 14 turned up

    separately, but it was not clear if they engaged in sex acts, Diversent


    Lilian blacked out while being filmed having sex with a Cuban man in his

    20s, according to the re-creation video.

    Believing that she had died and afraid to take her to a hospital, Pini

    and others put her in the trunk of a car and dropped her off in an

    isolated spot on the outskirts of Bayamo, the video noted.

    The final court ruling indicates that Lilian died of asphyxia but does

    not say how, according to Diversent. Her body was found after a dog was

    seen chewing on a human hand, according to another prosecution video.

    The three Italians and some of the Cubans claim they falsely confessed

    or incriminated others under heavy pressure by police interrogators and

    after weeks in isolation cells. Pini and Sartorio claim they have

    receipts proving they were in Italy when Lilian died.

    "They told me they needed my help punishing the bad Cubans who were

    abusing the girls, and then they threw me in prison," Pini told El Nuevo

    Herald during a lengthy phone interview from the foreigners' wing of

    Havana's Combinado del Este prison.

    What's more, Diversent said a Bayamo resident recently signed a

    notarized declaration for Pini's appeal saying that on the day Lilian

    died he saw a young girl and a man in his 30s or 40s walk into the

    thicket where her body was later found.

    The man, Pedro Medel, said he told police what he had seen and days

    later recognized the girl from a police photo of Lilian, but was not

    called to testify at the trial, the lawyer added.

    Asked what might have happened to Lilian, Pini said he could not speak

    freely on the prison telephone.

    "I am very much afraid of the Cuban authorities," he said, "because they

    can do anything here — make up evidence, erase evidence, erase anything."

    Juan Tamayo is a reporter with El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language

    sister publication of The Miami Herald.

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