By Katie Hopkins for MailOnline. Especially not as a mum of three with pink hair and a face to frighten pit bulls. But that's Havana for you. And it's on offer everywhere. It is all-pervasive, gushing out at you in a thick soup of bodily fluids and an oozing of soft parts and fleshy bits thrusting out amongst the crumbling ruins of a city in decay.
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From north to south, Havana to Santiago de Cuba, amidst the decaying buildings, propagandizing billboards and food stores with empty shelves there are two things in Cuba which are always in full supply: prostitutes and sex tourists. In a country with few employment options that offer enough upon which to subsist and an embargo that contributes to substandard living conditions for the majority of the population, women and girls flock to densely populated Havana in search of sexual employment in hotels, bars, restaurants and on the streets. Sex tourists flock to Havana and other cities in search of a form of escapism that is cheap, safe and exotic. In Cuba, foreign men can command Cuban women and girls with the same ease used to order cocktails.
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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.