Seventy years later, after much political and socioeconomic change on the island, tourism imaginaries of Cuba still evoked the sensual and erotic pleasures that the country had to offer. Another perspective pays attention to how differences are articulated and the effects they have on the realities people experience, trying to grasp how different self-identifications are brought about and what they achieve in a given situation. The analysis presented in this article follows this second approach, and builds on a growing body of work that calls for subtler analyses of the way intimate encounters in tourism take place, of their power differentials, of the identifications that emerge from them, and of their potential ambiguities see for instance the writings of Pruitt and LaFont, ; Cohen, ; Herold et al. Much has been said about how female tourists exert their economic and racial power to exploit Caribbean men they typecast in the imagery of hyper-sexual black masculinity; and also how, out of economic necessity, Caribbean men play up these images themselves to use their sexual labour in material-erotic exchanges with tourist women. This literature draws attention to the modalities, tactics, and strategies through which foreign women are seduced, highlighting the competences and resourcefulness that local men develop in engaging with tourists.
Sex, Seduction, and Care for the Other in Touristic Cuba
Having travelled to many parts of Cuba in star hotels, over a 20 year period, this hotel really stands out. Clearly, by the male guests' own admission to me, this place is known as a sex tourist destination. They were surprised that I did not know of this reputation. Not that it doesn't go on elsewhere, but here it pretty well was the only activity going on. I was the only single female, among groups of solo male "travelers". Within hours, sometimes days, they were paired up with young Cuban women at meals, on the beach and in their rooms.
Prostitution in Cuba is not officially illegal, however, there is legislation against pimps, sexual exploitation of minors and pornography. Many Cubans do not consider the practice immoral. Sex trafficking is a problem in the country. The country, and Havana in particular, has often been associated with prostitution in foreign eyes.