From Cuba with Love: Sex and Money in the Twenty-First Century
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Investigating the lived realities of the Cuban women (and some men) who date tourists and offering a unique perspective on the surrounding debates, From Cuba with Love raises issues about women’s bodies–what they can or should do and, equally, what can be done to them. Daigle’s provocative perspective will make readers question how race and politics in Cuba are tied to women and sex, and the ways in which political power acts directly on the bodies of individuals through law, policing, institutional programs, and social norms.
was reserved for the so-called jineteras, betraying some very traditional ideas about sexuality—and about men and women, and what they ought to be doing—beneath its egalitarian veneer. That these women are said to be mostly young and attractive mulatas could be as much about a raced fantasy or “tropicalist cliché”116 as it is about the truncated range of options available to Afro-Cuban women. Kamala Kempadoo somewhat cynically calls women like these “freelancers” because they operate without
green and I know it’s green, why do I have to say it’s orange just because they say me to?” Ricky tells me that he believes the Revolution changed Cuba in important ways, that it was a response to genuine grievances and profound injustices—he lists lack of health care, illiteracy, and racial inequality on his fingers—but he feels that now many of the Revolution’s gains are rapidly eroding while others never materialized at all. “I can make you a good example. I have a friend now who is in
Hospital Cira García, which is the foreign hospital. It’s all clean, and you have to pay. If you’re a Cuban, you’re not allowed to go there—you go to Calixto García. For god’s sake, it’s like . . . fucking cucarachas [cockroaches], everything dirty. Everyone says, yes, you are really equal. You are free to go anywhere, but you go to 23 and Malecón, and you’re going to see, we’re not equal. And if you come to Varadero? Aye aye aye aye aye! They say, ‘What are you doing here? No, no, no!’” He snaps
protesting loudly as they tried to take her away. “I looked around, and I was like, ‘Holy shit—this is a fucking operativo,’” he says, referring to the mass roundups of young women routinely carried out by the PNR since around 1996 in an effort to combat prostitution. “They were herding girls onto this big Astro bus, and there were all these faces looking back at us from the windows and shouting. The cops were all around us, asking Teresa stuff like—like, ‘What are you doing on this street? What
resurgent prostitution under socialism.23 Most commentary seems preoccupied with ascertaining causes and apportioning blame for the phenomenon. Few accounts try to foreground the lived experiences of the young Cubans who are actually involved in sexual-affective economies of tourism, and virtually none depict what the sociologist Heidi Hoefinger calls “the other side of the story—the side which exists in the laughter among friends, in the little joys of daily accomplishments or in the personal