Sunday, July 21, 2013

Prostitution Controversy Provoked by Miami Herald Article

Prostitution exists everywhere in the world where there are people with more money who pay people with less money to have sex with them. However, let's not forget that anonymous complaints could easily be fabricated or orchestrated by forces who wish to disrupt Cuba's tourism industry. The whole point of the bombing of Cuban hotels was to discourage travel to Cuba for tourism. The purpose of protests in Miami against tourist travel to countries who have normal relations with Cuba is to punish countries which maintain normal ties with Cuba.

Walter Lippman


Re: Notes on Canadians in Cuba and Island Prostitution

This story was released on the morning (July 16) and so far has been picked up by 48 news outlets and blogs using the same headline. It has another 51 citations using variations on the headline.

What is the story? Juan O. Tamayo of the Miami Herald trolls TripAdvisor and discovers a bunch of very recent, negative reviews posted anonymously. He then reports it as news.

How do we know these anonymous reviews weren't planted in an effort to fabricate a story? Such an approach is typical of the Miami Herald and its handful of shill "independent journalists" in Cuba. Many of these "journalists" are in the employ of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, rightwing NGOs in Europe, and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), the latter of which operates via rightwing anti-Cuba groups based in Florida and other U.S. states.

TripAdvisor has great reports on foreign destinations posted by smart, sensitive travelers willing to sign their names to their stories. The site also has a ton of schlock posted by unnamed sources; anybody can complain about any touristic issue anonymously. There are zero guidelines in place to prevent abuse. The only posts on TripAdvisor that should be taken seriously are those by contributors willing to identify themselves.

Juan O. Tamayo's article is part of a long orchestrated series going back to March 2013 attempting to damage Cuba's reputation as the tourist destination of choice for Canadians. Canadians go to Cuba because it is warm, friendly and economical. We go to escape our protracted freezing winters. We go with our families because it is safe, drug free, and less dangerous than visiting the United States. Canadians go to have a deserved good time and to warm up. We represent the biggest sector of foreign travelers to Cuba, about 1.2 million a year -- nearly half of all international travelers to Cuba. In fact, one in thirty Canadians go to Cuba every year. That means nearly one in ten Canadians have been to Cuba this century.

What could be more effective in damaging the Canadian travel market to Cuba than suggesting the island is overrun by foreign (mostly Canadian) pedophiles, youth prostitutes and potential child sex slaves?

There is no doubt that among the 1.2 million annual Canadian visitors to Cuba there are some bad guys. But it is a minuscule fraction of the tourists that travel there each year. Certainly the overwhelming majority of travelers do not condone the exploitation of Cuban youth for sex for pay. We abhor it.

Juan O. Tamayo's fabricated story serves three purposes:

1. Scare away Canadian visitors to Cuba.

2. Accuse Canada of sending pedophiles to Cuba to abuse local youth so the U.S. government will put pressure on the Canadian government to condemn Cuba. Canada is the only country in the world that has had unbroken normal diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba this century and last.

3. To give the Obama administration ammunition to recharge the blockade against Cuba.

Prostitution, like Walter says, is a sad reality for many impoverished people who are forced to sell themselves to survive. The Cuban government recognizes the harm caused by human exploitation, and goes after the pimps and johns who abuse, torture, and harm victims of both sexes and all ages.

Our experience working in Cuba over the past 16 years gives us reason to question the motives and sources behind Juan O. Tamayo's Miami Herald series. What he describes has not been the experience of our staff (Canadian, American and Cuban) nor of the thousands of North Americans that we have sent to Cuba over the past several years.

I encourage you to take a critical look at the posts on TripAdvisor quoted in Tamayo's article. I am confident you will see what I did: all posts are recent, anonymous, and written in a manner that is too elaborate for the first time Cuba visitor. This article is but one more piece of the U.S. campaign against Cuba.

Marcel Hatch, Education Director
Cuba Education Tours



Posted on Tue, Jul. 16, 2013
Cuban hotel guests complain of prostitution

By Juan O. Tamayo<>

Most online guest reviews of beach resorts mention the quality of the sand, the water, the food and the towels and linens. And the Club Marea del Portillo and adjoining Club Farallón on Cuba's southeastern coast are no different.

But many of their guests also have complained about the young Cuban prostitutes at the three-star hotels, favored by Canadians looking for a cheap vacation - as little as $645 for a flight and one week's stay, all-inclusive.

The Marea del Portillo, in the municipality of Pilón, a remote part of Granma province, was home to James McTurk, 78, a Canadian convicted of child sex tourism with Cuban girls as young as three, for seven visits between 2009 and his arrest in Toronto last July.

Following are some of the guests' complaints about prostitution, most of them written anonymously. Two hotel administrators hung up the phone when asked about the complaints.

* "The worst part was the sex trade. I am used to seeing prostitution in Cuba now, but when they are 13 & 14 year old girls ... that's just gross."

* "If you don't want to watch obvious prostitution happen right in front of your eyes do not book at this resort."

* "Very young prostitutes are allowed to be brought in as guests for some older customers. They kiss openly and behave seductively in public."

* "The resort has some sort of arrangement with local prostitution, as we saw more than a couple 'escorting&#39; guests at both hotels. They wandered the premises quite comfortably."

* "[<* Repeat customers "consist of old men returning often to visit their young Cuban girlfriends that have their children and in some cases another on the way © If you like witnessing young women being exploited then you might enjoy your stay."

* "Is it prostitution? What you see at Marea you're going to see anywhere in Cuba. The rules have changed and Cubans are now allowed in the hotels. If they're paid for, they have every right to be there."

* "Now that Cubans are allowed to visit the resort (and I am happy about this, any new freedom for them is welcome) a lot of Canadians are hiring prostitutes and bringing them to the resort, often to stay on-site with them for the full week. This activity wasn't limited to fat old ugly men either, there were a lot of women of all ages with their boy toys.

"I find this behaviour absolutely disgusting! What the hell is the matter with these Canadians that they have to fly to Cuba to take advantage of these people, make them sell their souls, just so they can have a romp in the hay?"

Read more here:

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