Prostitution in Cuba
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    Hooking and Similar Trades

    Cuba: Hooking and Similar Trades
    March 24, 2014

    HAVANA TIMES — No one calls them jineteras, not even prostitutes. To
    their customers and those who disapprove of them, to all of us who know
    what they do for a living (even police officers), those ragged women one
    sees soliciting at the side of the road are quite simply chupachupas
    (“lollypops”). This is what people call them in Cuba to differentiate
    them from jineteras, considered a superior species by some.

    High heels, tight-fitting clothes, brand or imitation clothing and
    perfumes – jineteras find their customers in places frequented by
    tourists and people with money. The city’s downtown area and major
    avenues are their preferred areas of operation.

    The way they dress, the supposed glamour of some and the extravagance of
    most are imitated even by girls under fifteen who are in no way linked
    to the trade. They are simply young, impressionable girls who imitate
    the appearance of these women whom sex has given a certain financial
    status, well above that enjoyed by a doctor or an engineer in Cuba. When
    some girls are asked what they dream of becoming when they grow up, it
    is not uncommon to hear them say they dream of marrying a foreigner.

    For some – perhaps those who define them on the basis of the social
    standing of their customers – jineteras are not strictly speaking
    prostitutes. Prostitutes are lower-ranking solicitors who don’t dress
    well (they don’t have to), charge in Cuban pesos and sleep with people
    in hovels. Sometimes, they will have a quickie with someone they know
    doesn’t have any money for a bit of cheap rum or a pack of cigarettes.

    When one travels down Cuba’s National Highway or Ocho Vias road
    (especially in the early morning and afternoon), one can see the
    chupachupas at the side of the road. There’s more of them every day, but
    no one seems to notice them. No one talks about them and no one seems to
    care about how it is they live.

    In the tickets at both sides of the road, sometimes alone, sometimes in
    groups (for protection and mutual support), one sees women that everyone
    can tell apart from hitchhikers, that is to say, people who are simply
    “sticking out their thumbs”, as we call the practice of stopping a car
    and asking the driver to give one a lift at a stretch of road where
    buses are few and far between.

    No one who isn’t after what the chupachupas offer stops to pick up these
    women. People look at them and spit. Drivers yell rude things at them
    and they reply with obscene gestures. They dress poorly, smell worse and
    their bodies, no longer so young, show the signs of a horrifying life.
    Some say all are from far-away towns in Cuba’s east, or that they are
    former inmates, undesirables who live and sleep where they can.

    Their more regular customers are truckers who drive cargos from one end
    of the island to the other or workers who spend long periods of time
    away from home, in the camp sites set up at the side of the road.

    Chupachupas ask for very little, sometimes only to sleep in a
    construction site or the uncomfortable bunk bed of a distant shelter,
    where they share their lean and dirty bodies with dozens of lonely men
    made unscrupulous by a lack of sex and a life of profanity.

    In the city center, jineteras can be seen getting off and on luxury
    rental cars. They ride around under the watchful gaze of those who
    celebrate their successes, emblazoned on their expensive clothes and the
    bills with which they buy their virtue. They enjoy the hotels and
    commercial centers few of us can frequent. They cover their bodies with
    perfume and disguise the marks of a night of excess with Maybelline or
    Helena Rubinstein makeup. That is the daily routine of their
    bodies-for-sale. They often dream of moving to Miami, Paris or Madrid.

    In the meantime, on the outskirts of Havana, the inferior species hop
    onto and off trucks. They walk under the scorching sun, make desperate
    gestures at passing cars, stroll off into the thickets and wash their
    bodies with the water in the bottles they keep in their daypacks.

    That is what the trade involves for them. They also endure beatings, all
    kinds of abuse, constant forlornness, hunger, blood and dust, all mixed
    up over their skins – until, one night, death finds them at a derelict,
    far-off place. For them there are no dreams, only a highway that cuts
    across the country, as deadly as a sword, where the only luck they know
    is the occasional stop someone makes.

    Source: Cuba: Hooking and Similar Trades – Havana –


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