Jeovany J. Vega, Translator: lapizcero
Towards the end of October, sociologist Mariela Castro Espin, Director
of the National Center of Sexual Education of Cuba (CENESEX), while on a
visit to this country, expressed her admiration for the "dignified
manner" with which prostitutes uphold the value of their work in Holland.
But in these latitudes, whose Revolution since its first steps
eliminated prostitution and where the sending of thousands of Cubans to
the camps of the notorious UMAP* became so naturally institutionalized
under the ethereal category of "improper conduct", this being expressed
by the daughter of our President, seen quite suddenly, takes some work
It is indisputable that Cuban society – not exempt yet from
discrimination based on this motive – has become, for the good of all,
more tolerant in everything relating to sexuality, including the more
permissive modality with which the phenomenon of prostitution is
perceived after the upturn in values made acute with the arrival of the
90′s, but it would be well to ask … will we see in 2012 the Director of
CENESEX propose the structuring of a "Red Light District" in Havana?
Would the "profession" be institutionalized as one more job alternative
for the million workers finding themselves furloughed in the last few
months? Will our picturesque Jineteras (prostitutes) count on a labor
union of their own to represent them? Would they have base leaders,
their meetings of associates, their union halls across the whole
country? Would this Union be a part of the Central de Trabajadores de
Cuba (Cuba Workers Union) and as such be represented in their
congresses? Would our government dare go so far?
Mariela Castro's words, unsettling for some, surprising for others, are
sufficiently eloquent: "I admire and respect the way in which [the
prostitutes of the Red Light District] have found a dignified way of
doing their sex work and made themselves worthy of respect. Really, it
has been a pleasure to get to know directly how they do it … What I have
enjoyed the most is seeing how they have known to create a process and
dignify the way they make this work worthy, because it is a job. And,
moreover, making their rights respected. That seems very important as
much as the health care, protection from violence, protection from abuse
in a broader sense."
Though she doesn't clarify how or how much "directly" she knows how the
licensed prostitutes "do what they do," it is indisputable that much of
the evolution in the way in which some part of Cuban society projects
with respect to homosexual persons and transsexuals, is due in good
measure to the work sustained by the CENESEX. Now then, along with this
forward step, a different treatment is urged regarding the topic of
prostitution and all of this only forms a part of the strategy that
seeks to export to the world the mirage of the opening being extended to
civil rights, it is a polemic that enters speculative terrain, something
many here see as certain.
Not withstanding, today my neighbor Eva, the jinetera, with much faith,
did her ministrations to Oshun and to Elegua so they give her her aché
(life force), so they sweeten life a little and so that they blaze the
trails, a little bit at a time.
*Translator's note: UMAP (translated into English) stands for Military
Units to Aid Production. These were labor camps established in 1965
where undesirables such as homosexuals, "bourgeois,"
"counterrevolutionaries," Jehovah's Witnesses and others were incarcerated.
Translated by: lapizcero
November 28 2011