Revolutionary Prostitutes. Prostitution In Cuba, Part 2 / Miriam Celaya
Posted on September 15, 2013
No social phenomenon arises suddenly or by spontaneous generation,
rather it is the result of a long process of the accumulation of
essential components. The rise of prostitution in “Socialist Cuba” is no
exception. In fact, prostitution was not eliminated by policies dictated
by the Government, which favored the mass incorporation of women into
the workforce, nor with the wider social benefits that they undoubtedly
enjoyed as long as romance subsidized by Eastern European socialism
lasted, as was demonstrated when, impelled by the calamities of the
so-called “Special Period*” the Government opted for international
tourists as the most expeditious way to bring in hard currency.
With the Revolution brothels disappeared, but prostitution did nothing
more than change its attire to disguise itself and survive in other
forms, perhaps more subtle, which were enshrined and diversified as the
system consolidated itself and installed the “meritocracy,” a
predominantly male caste formed by mid- and high-level “leader cadres”
of the Government, the Communist Party, high-ranking officials of the
army or the Interior Ministry, as well as directors and managers of
numerous state enterprises and institutions.
The privileges that the new caste of leaders can enjoy, according to
their level, includes everything from travel abroad, free or very
low-cost vacations in the country’s best hotels, special medical
attention and private clubs, to the assignment of housing and cars,
along with a generous quote of fuel, among many others.
The meritocracy, in turn, brought an explosion of a subordinate caste,
the vaginocracy, formed by women attracted to the power and benefits of
the new anointed, which are passed on to those with whom they are linked
sexually, who can now enjoy a way of life that, otherwise, they would
not have access to. These were not always their wives. It was an open
secret that almost every prominent leader accumulated, among his
trophies, some young and beautiful lover whom he maintained out of
wedlock, based on gifts, perks and material benefits. The most
successful of these hunters managed to wed their protector or came to
acquire a good home or well-paid job, among other possible benefits.
It was not exceptional for military leaders to travel with their lovers,
including on their “internationalist missions,” as happened in Angola,
where they appeared embedded as personal staff. And surely they were.
This, with the advent of Marxism in Cuba and of the new class in power,
prostitution for barter was reinstated, exchanging sex for money rather
than for material benefits, and for the possibility of moving up the
social ladder. The new model renewed old principals, tolerating the
“vices of the bourgeois past” painted with make-up in the colors of the
proletariat. The new prostitutes had no qualms about marching in Civic
Plaza on the ritual dates, dressing as militants on the Days of Defense,
or quickly stepping up for the Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution or the Federation of Cuban Women. Revolutionary prostitutes
had emerged, although neither they, nor the society, would consciously
assume this definition.
For its part, society was abiding by the new rules. After all, offering
sexual favors to a cadre of the Revolution in exchange for certain
benefits was not so reprehensible. They were sacrificed comrades who
spent a lot of time far from family and should have some leisure
activity; it’s true they traded in sex, but at least their shared their
beds with pillars of the fatherland, which in some way turned them into
patriots. It was the heyday of revolutionary intransigence.
The double standard was imposed almost inadvertently as a national
culture and as part of the mechanisms of the survival in a country in
which the scarcity of material goods pushed the society towards the
frontiers of moral misery. Almost the entire national spirituality was
constrained within the ideological corset, which added to the chronic
civic irresponsibility, contributed to the aggravation of the
“anthropological damage” that has been brilliantly defined by the
layperson Dagoberto Valdés.
Simultaneously, the traditional family structure was fractured and its
values disrupted. Parents lost authority to the power of the
State-Government-Party which appropriated their children and
indoctrinated them into the new ideology of the commune. The children
were sent to boarding schools from adolescence and grew up in
promiscuity far from family control.
They had laid the foundation for the social disaster that would come in
the ultimate decade of the 20th century when we Cubans were discovering
that prostitution had overflowed the confined limits of the sex trade
and infiltrated the roots of the whole society. Soon, the vaginocracy
would yield to the strength and diversity of “jineterismo” — hustling.
*Translator’s note: The Special Period in Times of Peace (Período
especial en tiempos de paz) was the name given by the regime to the
period of extreme economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet
Union (Cuba’s main political and economic ally and subsidizer) in 1991.
Its end is not very well defined, but seems to have been around the time
when the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez started to send oil and
money to the island.
Prostitution in Cuba, Part 1: The Many Faces of a Conflict
2 September 2013
Source: “Revolutionary Prostitutes. Prostitution In Cuba, Part 2 /
Miriam Celaya | Translating Cuba” –