Cuba is a sexually permissive society. As journalist Jacobo Timerman wrote, “Eros is amply gratified in Cuba and needs no stimulation.” A joyous eroticism pervades Cuban men and women alike, transcending the hang-ups of essentially puritanical Europe or North America. Seduction is a national pastime pursued by both sexes—the free expression of a high-spirited people confined in an authoritarian world. After all, Cubans joke, sex is the only thing Castro can’t ration.
Che Guevara’s widow, Aleida March, told biographer Jon Lee Anderson that women were “throwing themselves” at the barbudos (“bearded ones”) after the triumph of the Revolution and that, “Well—with a big smile as if to indicate it was quite a scene—there had been a lot of ‘lovemaking’ going on.” Thus the tone was set early, noted Lois Smith and Alfredo Padula, by a “bacchanal in which the triumphant revolutionaries and euphoric nation celebrated between the sheets.” Cuban sexuality has ever since defied the efforts of the Revolution to tame and control it.
Promiscuity is rampant. So are extramarital affairs (“infidelity is the national sport,” says Ann Louise Bardach). Both genders are unusually bold. Long glances—ojitos—often accompanied by uninhibited comments, betray envisioned improprieties. Even the women murmur piropos (catcalls or courtly overtures) and sometimes comic declarations of love. Regardless of age, one is expected to enjoy sex, and as much of it as one can handle, regardless of gender orientation.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition