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From: Karen Wald
Subject: What Fidel Really Said about Prostitution
             and Wayne Smith Commentary
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004

Just after Bush's speech accusing Cuba of being a haven for sexual tourism, but a week before the topic was at the heart of Fidel Castro's July 26th address, Wayne Smith took up the allegations and provided this eloquent commentary. Wayne Smith knows more about Cuba than 99.9% of the public in the United States. At the end Smith points out the ironic implication in Bush's remarks that suggest the Cuban-Americans whose rights to family visits Bush has curtailed might be the very people Bush thinks are engaging in prostitution on the island! A point well made. Read and share this widely.

Bush Says His Restrictions on Travel Will Stamp Out Prostitution in Cuba!

By Wayne S. Smith,
CIP senior fellow
July 20, 2004

President Bush has faced growing criticism in Florida over his May 6 decision to restrict the travel of Cuban-Americans going to visit families on the island. Thus, speaking in Tampa on July 16, he seemed to suggest that the real purpose of these restrictions is to stamp out prostitution!

Bush accused Castro of encouraging sex tourism and suggested that prostitution, including child prostitution, was on the rise in Cuba. He cited a report from the Protection Project of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies as indicating that Cuba has "replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists."

Bush suggested, however, that his administration has a global strategy for ending such forms of exploitation and that the recently announced travel controls are a part of that strategy. "My administration is working toward a comprehensive solution to this problem: the rapid, peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba," he said.

The first question that must be asked about President Bush's July 16 remarks is do they in fact reflect the situation in Cuba? Is prostitution, including child prostitution, on the rise?

As anyone who travels regularly to Cuba will tell you, the answer to that is definitely not. True, largely as the result of Cuba's serious economic problems following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Cuba's loss of its preferential trading relationship with it, prostitution was indeed rampant going into the mid-1990s. But then a government crackdown got into high gear in 1998. Until that point, there were indeed hordes of prostitutes on every street corner and outside every hotel. But that all changed in 1998. Now they are gone. Tracey Eaton, the Dallas Morning News' resident reporter in Havana, wrote in 2003 that "Cuba is no longer one of the world's top destinations for sex tourism."

"Prostitutes," he said, "increasingly fearful of going to jail, spend more time dodging police than cavorting with customers."

Eaton quotes Christopher Baker, an award-winning writer and author of Moon's Cuba Handbook, as saying: "I don't think Cuba ranks any longer as a prime sex destination..The Dominican Republic and Thailand continue to be the top destinations. Cuba is now in second tier."

Second, does the Cuban government encourage sex tourism? After all, President Bush seems to quote Castro as bragging about the sex industry in Cuba and saying that Cuban prostitutes were the best educated and cleanest in the world.

No, the Cuban government does not encourage sex tourism. On the contrary, as stated above, it began a sweeping crackdown in 1998 and energetic measures to diminish prostitution continue today. As for Castro's remarks, they were made in 1992, in the depths of the economic crisis, at a meeting of the National Assembly. Castro was not bragging. Quite the contrary, he was lamenting the fact that with the economic difficulties, prostitution had reappeared as a social problem. But at least, he said, Cuban prostitutes were well educated and clean, as demonstrated by the fact that Cuba did not have an AIDS problem -- or one with venereal disease.

Where did the White House get the quote? According to the Los Angeles Times, only a day before the President's speech, the State Department, asked for material on prostitution in Cuba, did a quick internet search and came up with a paper written by a Dartmouth undergraduate which contained the quotes, but without footnotes. But the White House included them anyway. (George W. Bush, after all, has never been big on footnotes). The former student, Charlie Trumbull, is quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying the President misconstrued Castro's statement. "It shows they didn't read much of the article," he said.

And what of the so-called Hopkins report?

The report to which President Bush referred is not meant to be a definitive statement. Rather, in a page and a half, it cites a number of newspaper articles, most of which are dated and report information from the 1990s. It thus tends to reflect a view of the problem in Cuba prior to the crackdown. It makes no effort at independent confirmation of what the news clippings report. Further, President Bush takes out of context certain of the report's statements. It, for example, cites newspaper sources as saying that "Cuba is one of many countries that have replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists."

Again, there may have been some truth to that statement prior to 1998, but certainly not today. President Bush, however, would have us believe not only that the statement is valid today, but that it is Cuba alone that has replaced Southeast Asia.

None of this is to say that prostitution does not exist in Cuba. It does, as it exists almost everywhere, including the United States. But the point is that it is no longer any more of a problem in Cuba than it is in those other countries, again including the United States. Indeed, without question, child prostitution, pornography and abuse of children is more of a problem here than in Cuba. The President says he doesn't read newspapers. He should. He might also occasionally check the web!

Finally, what does restricting Cuban-Americans to one visit every three years have to do with reducing prostitution? Is Mr. Bush suggesting that their real purpose was not to visit their families on the island but to engage in sex tourism? Cuban-Americans must be asking themselves that same question.

The Center for International Policy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Center does not accept any government funding-we rely entirely on donations from individuals and a handful of foundations. Please show your support for our work-visit our donation page.
From: Walter Lippmann
Tuesday, July 27, 2004 12:31 PM

Great gratitude to Simon McGuinnes in Ireland for this exact quotation of what Fidel Castro really did say about Cuban prostitution FOURTEEN YEARS AGO

"Prostitution is not allowed in our country"
- Fidel Castro, 11 July 1992 -

"We had to accept tourism as an economic need, but we said that it will be tourism free of drugs, free of brothels, free of prostitution, free of gambling. There is no cleaner, purer tourism than Cuba's tourism, because there is really no drug trafficking, no gambling houses. There are hookers, but prostitution is not allowed in our country. There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist. Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily, and without any need for it. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the lowest number of AIDS cases. There are nearby countries which have tens of thousands of AIDS cases. Therefore, there is truly no tourism healthier than Cuba's."

President Fidel Castro at the evening session of the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, at the Havana Convention Center on 11 July 1992

-SOURCE- Havana TeleRebelde and CubaVision Networks


Popes, Prostitutes & Prisoners
- Karen Lee Wald

Bush, Electoral Politics and Cuba's "Illicit Sex Trade"
- Dr. Nelson P. Valdes

Wayne Smith on Bush's Prostitution Slander
- Wayne Smith is the former head (eight years) of the U.S. Interests' Section in Havana. He supports the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Prostitution Resources:



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