Painted lips


The economic crisis in Cuba forced us to find substitutes for almost everything, including cosmetics. In the nineties, shoe polish was used to make the eyelashes stand out, dish soap became shampoo and vinegar a softener. A very humble friend was relieved when she discovered she could rub a handkerchief on the whitewashed walls and use it to powder her face. A laxative was left to sit for the mineral oil to separate, which was used as a sun tan lotion.

In a mute complicity men and women arranged to undress with the light off so they wouldn’t show the holes and mendings in their underwear, which would be washed at night and left to dry behind the fridge to wear the next day. The most humiliating was going back to our grandmother’s custom of washing out pads on the days you were menstruating and staying home—sitting in the bathroom—when the cycle of the moon came.

Beginning in the fall of 1993 those who wanted to look good had the opportunity to acquire new products and even to choose among various brands, but they had to carry the money of the “enemy” in their wallets. So at the price of many sacrifices, the women of this Island didn’t let themselves be defeated in their desire to look more beautiful. With their painted lips and their tight-fitting clothes, they laughed at those who—at moments of great extremism—defined the human goal to preen as “frivolous capitalism.” Dying your hair blue, getting a tattoo or attaching a ring to your navel is no longer seen as an ideological debility. Signs have begun to sprout on bodies, of seduction and change.

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25 thoughts on “Painted lips

  1. Castro said in 1992 in a speech to the Cuban National Assembly: “We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we in the country with the lowest numbers of AIDS cases… Therefore, there is truly no prostitution healthier that Cuba’s…. “Cuban women become jineteras (prostitutes) because they like sex”. He remarked in 1993 that “thanks to socialism Cuban girls must make the cleanest and best-educated prostitutes in the world.”

    The regime’s tourism minister has launched an international campaign announcing the splendor of the Cubans mulatas, using them as bait, distributing posters of white sand beaches, and Cuban women topless to travel agencies around the world. Sex, of course, is the primary reason that most tourists travel to Cuba. In its report of 2000-2001, the End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT, UK) reported the existence of child prostitution and traffic of minors in Cuba, and adds in that the country no measures have been taken on the matter.

  2. Machete Amor, you may be aware that Erasmo Calzadilla lost his teaching job at the University of Havana because he was accused of being a counter-revolutionary, and the evidence presented was some of his diary entries on the Havana Times website.

    Erasmo’s latest entry is very courageous because it seeks to redefine Jose Marti as a person who warned against and opposed tyranny within Cuba even more than he opposed colonialism. The quote you cited below is actually from Marti’s writings. Why am I not surprised that the entirety of Marti’s writings are not available in Castro’s Cuba?

  3. The only reason that Official Mourning for Juan Almeida lasted only 12 hours(8am-8pm) is because

    Sept-13-1939 is Abelardo Colome Ibarra’s bithday . They gotta celebrate Furry’s 70th birhtday..

  4. The following note, is the only small information that the Official News Paper “Granma” did publish in the English version:

    Official Mourning Declared for Juan Almeida Bosque

    The Council of State of the Republic of Cuba has declared Sunday, September 13, a day of national mourning for the passing away of Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida Bosque.

    The official mourning will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at which time all flags in public buildings and military facilities will remain at half-mast.

    It is very curious that the information is so short and nothing else.

    I think that the real note for the Cuban people should be:

    ” The People of the Republic of Cuba has declare Sunday September 13 a day of National Happiness and, we, the Cubans should party and celebrate with joy the death of one of the most notorious murderer and loyal lackey of the mafia gang of Castro and his brother Raul “.

    The official day of our independence will be the date that we, the Cubans received the news about the dead of the “Murderer in Chief”, Fidel Castro”!!!!.

    Freedom is close,,,,very close,,,we have just 3 or 4 more to go!!!!!.

    Candido

  5. Lifting today’s nominal embargo is a good idea that almost all Cuban agree with, any way the embargo doesn’t exist, it’s proven enough, but some people and the dictatorship continues to talk about the embargo to create the impression in the public opinion that it exist. It is the old tactic used by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi regime minister of propaganda whose very famous quote says, “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth..”

    The only effective embargo that to day affects the Cuban people is the internal embargo that the dictatorship maintains on the Cubans.

    The United States government’s embargo has had little effect on the Cuban economy, since it only represents 6% of Cuba’s commerce with the rest of the world. The embargo only affects the American companies and their subsidiaries. The rest of the countries, a 180 since the last count in 2007, and companies are free to conduct business with Cuba and are doing so, as confirmed by imports surpassing $10.00 billions during 2007. In reality there is not such embargo since in the year 2000 the United States Congress lifted the prohibition of the sale of agricultural products and medicines to Cuba, thereby allowing Castro’s regime to buy everything it needs.

    From December 2001 up to December 2007, the Castro’s regime had signed contracts for more than $2.00 billions with American companies for the purchases of their products. The U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, based on analysis of official figures of the Castro’s regime, has estimated the import of U.S. agricultural products in $437 millions during 2007. Cuba’s National Statistics Office (www.one.cu) placed the United States as Cuba’s fifth business partner at $582 million in 2007.

    The following excellent article makes solid points against lifting the embargo without meaningful changes in Cuba. The author lays out good reasons why lifting the embargo will benefit the Cuban dictatorship, no the Cuban people:

    Lift the Cuba Embargo?
    By Humberto (Bert) Corzo
    http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y09/abril09/09_O_3.html

  6. 10
    ricardo bellez from mexico
    Septiembre 13th, 2009 at 17:15
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This problem with the males prostitution in France demonstrates that socialism does not work even in rich countries!!!!!!!

  7. Erasmo is getting deep over on Havana Times…lets see how long this lasts and where he is going with it.

    http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=13703

    “Respect for freedom and the thinking of others, even of the most wretched of being, this is my radicalism: if I die or they kill me, it will be for that.”

  8. So Christine and Julie are trying to say that it doesn’t matter what extreme situation cuban women have to confront for students in France have an even harder problem with the need to pay for their studies and some have to choose prostitution to come up with the money to pay their studies.(!!)Right?
    This “comparison” technique is very much Castro’s.You state a cuban social problem and he redirect the conversation to something worst that is happening on the other side of the world.So what?
    We are talking Cuba!!!.You don’t find extreme enough the cuban social situation?Would you use then shoe cream too to make up your eyes?Would you go and live in Cuba under those conditions without a problem too?You think all these issue are ok since students in France can’t afford their education?
    What kind of foolishness is that?You think people are stupid and can’t understand or you think that cubans are to be slaves and don’t deserve better?I repeat,these are standard Castro’s line of thinking!.

  9. There is not to many males prostitutes in Cuba?You may be right …in exchange they have a lot pimps.

    Trying to compare Canada,France, even Mexico to Cuba is in my oppinion an absurdity.

    By the way comments made at 17:15… 17:16… 17:18 …17:25… 17:30 even when they are written in different languages seem to come from the same person.

    Statistics are cold but they are there for a reason, the links are there. Please don’t argue with facts. I uderstand different oppinions,but facts are facts http://www.heritage.org/index/Ranking.aspx

    Prostitution male or female is the oldest profession in the world. There is a direct relationship between poverty and prostitution.Whether is more rampant in France, Canada, Mexico or Cuba is a matter of oppinion.

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  16. I don’t know how many prostitutes France or Europe may have,,,but, I think that there are not many, when thousand of Europeans are going to Cuba every year looking for Cuba’s Prostitutes (AKA Jineteras).

    May be, in Europe they are not enough, or may be, they are most expensive which mean that at least the European Prostitute is more valuable, may be, the Cuban Prostitute is hotter than the European, etc, we could find thousand of “may be” for one of the oldest profession in the world.

    The truth is, the Cuban prostitute is very cheap,,,she is able to sell her body for a pair of shoes, or for one lipstick, or for a medicine for her child, etc, etc,,,the truth is, that the Robolution was done to eliminate that kind of profession, but instead, the number of prostitutes that Cuba has right now is 100 times higher that before 1959, the truth is, that like anything else, the Robolution just brought to the Cuba’s society more poverty, more deficits of food, clothing,,,,increased the repression, the abuses, and finally , took and place very far away HOPE for all people to live with dignity and freedom.

    “There is not Devil that last 100 years or body that resist”, and now with the dead of Juan Almeida “the slave of the mafia gang”, we have just 3 or 4 more to go,,,,just those 3 or 4 still in power, but with short time to reach Hell!!!!, the HOPE of the Cuban people grows by the minute,,,once those criminals are dead and rest in hell, the doors and the path to be free and recuperate the HOPE for Cuba will be open forever and ever!!!!

    I pray to God to the next is “the murderer in chief”!!!

    Vica Cuba!!!,,,Viva Cuba sin los Castros!!!

    Candido

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