Reviews and tips by travelers
Stories from former travelers about crime and scam in Cuba
Aug 25 2016
Corruption in Cuba 2016 – Drugged and Robbed in Havana
After a pleasant walk on Havana's famous five mile long breakwater (el malecón) as I was approaching my rented apartment about 1:30 in the morning I noticed two young women walking on the other side of the street. They looked at me and I looked back at them. Soon we were chatting on my side the sidewalk. The good-looking white one immediately agreed to come to my apartment; she had a great décolleté and a smile that just would not quit. To minimize that chance of aggravation from the police, I agreed to go first and they followed me at a distance. At the building's entrance the nondescript black girl walked away after exchanging a few words in Spanish that I could not understand. Prostitution is technically illegal in Cuba. In practice, foreign johns are never bothered but the girls are harassed for bribes.
Deeper understanding: Right from the beginning, the mark is compromised: he may be married, in Cuba illegally, tired, unable to understand street Spanish, and woefully unaware of the level of corruption and dishonesty which thoroughly permeates every aspect of life of these miserably poor people. The black side-kick took note of where I was living before wandering off. I proceeded to craftily sneak this woman into to my apartment.... there would be no witnesses.
Working as a pair is perfect for these criminals. Two women walking together at night is much less suspicious than a single gal out alone. They go from bar to bar trying to get themselves picked up by one or two men who will take one or both of them to his place for drinks and conversation. At any time one woman can distract the victim(s) or obstruct the view while the other spikes the drinks with a powder or prepared solution. They probably each carry enough drug to knock out two men. I imagine they carry some of the drug on their person for quick access, possibly through the doubly useful décolleté. They can begin the intoxication process in the bar or, with less chance of being caught, wait until they are in the man´s residence. The drug acts quickly.
Once in the living room of my apartment with the door locked and the keys in my pants pocket, the young woman cheerfully let me photograph her as well as both sides of her official identity card (el carnet). This is the standard procedure in Cuba because it is said “to protect both parties”. Cubans are conditioned to not object to showing their ID which they must always carry around with them.
I recall from her ID that her first name started with the letter “D”, that her official address was in Camagüey (or was it Santiago?), and that she was 28 -29 years old. She was a very pretty white girl of medium build, about 5' 4” with curly shoulder length blond hair. “People just call me Dami (or was it Dari?)”, she volunteered with a twinkle in her eyes.
I offered her a variety of drinks; she chose rum with cola and ice. This was unusual. Previous visitors had always chosen fruit juice or pop. I put two identical glasses with ice on the living room table along with a can of cola and a liter bottle of Havana Club. Knowing that women are nervous about getting drugged, I opened the can and the bottle in front of her. I asked her to give me mostly cola and then excused myself to go to another part of the apartment where the bathroom and bedroom were located. I placed the camera out of sight on a high shelf and look a leak in the john. I washed my hands and tidied up the bedroom. She was alone with the drinks for about 2 or 3 minutes. As I returned to the living room, curiously I thought, she had not yet finished preparing the drinks. Before my eyes she poured lots of cola into my glass and then dumped at least three ounces of rum into her glass holding the bottle high in a dramatic gesture. I thought, “PARTY TIME!” Smiling confidently she moved over to sit right close to me. She was an excellent conversationalist.
Deeper understanding: Phase one was to get my complete confidence. Here I was with one little giggly girl who was about to get plastered. I had her ID and picture. She really liked me! “Nice apartment. How long are you staying in Cuba? You seem to be so intelligent. You look so much younger than your age. You look so healthy, do you take any medicines?” It never entered my mind that this angelic looking creature would do me any harm.
So I took a mouthful of my ice-cold drink and noticed a curious metallic/bitter taste. Before I could process this information, she placed her alcohol drenched lips on mine and gave me a long, deep kiss. I just thought how lucky I was to have this gorgeous young woman dying to get at my body. She smiled and giggled and kept staring into my eyes. I took a second gulp and once again was rewarded with a long, wet, wonderful kiss.
Deeper understanding: Phase two was to start the intoxication. The kissing worked against me in so many ways. It totally distracted me from thinking about how my drink tasted. Maybe she even had kept a bit of her strong drink in her mouth. She rubbed strong alcohol on my lips and tongue which made it difficult for me to judge the strength of my own drink. The kiss was a Pavlovian stimulation to get me drinking even more. Of course most of my thinking was revolving around the pleasures yet to come.
I turned on some romantic music for slow dancing. She put her arms around my chest and pushed her breasts onto me. I felt great. What a lucky guy! After one dance she quickly sat down to continue the mutual drinking. I explained that I did not care for alcohol. “Tonight is special. You can drink tonight,” she explained with a suggestive smile. I felt really great. I drank some more.
Deeper understanding: Within 5 minutes of taking the first gulp on an empty stomach, the drug(s) started to hit me but at the time, and this is important, I did not notice it. I was too interested in putting on some better music and dancing some more. The slight odd feeling could be passed off as a little bit of alcohol effect or an episode of postural hypotension. Alcohol, especially in combination with a sedative drug, can have an initial excitatory effect. I was hypomanic without realizing it. A person in a manic state is less inhibited. So I went ahead and drank more of the alcoholic beverage which is something I ordinarily never do. She never let the drinks out of her sight. Had they been switched, she would have known immediately because hers was so much stronger than mine. I figure my first drink contained a lot of sedative and just a little bit of rum.
We danced some more. A wave of dizziness came over me and for a split second I wondered if I was being drugged. Curiously, this idea did not trigger other related thoughts. I simply forgot about it! I turned down the lights. There were more important things going on: great music and a beautiful girl who didn't mind my wandering hands. I felt very relaxed. I was just enjoying the moment; my mind was empty. I was not keeping track of who was drinking what. Maybe I drank more, I don't remember. Even though we were just slow dancing back and forth, I became unable to stay on the beat.
Deeper understanding: Phase three was getting enough drug into me to make me stupid. I was now incapable of having complicated thoughts. Her gentle suggestions became unquestioned commands. The most unbelievable thing is that I did not realize that I had become a helpless moron.
By the third or fourth dance I became more relaxed than I have ever been in my entire life. She started rubbing her hip against my crotch. We sat down again. She asked if I felt tired. I said no. She announced that we were out of cola so I went into the kitchen to get some more. I think we continued drinking but my memory of events from here on is poor. However, I do remember her putting her hand on my groin and sweetly asking if women ever touched me there. I did not answer because by that time speaking seemed to require a tremendous effort. It seemed to be her way of communicating that she wanted to get into bed with me. I stood up, took her by the hand, and lead her to the bedroom. There was no resistance. I flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Oh, did I feel relaxed! She said, “I'll get the drinks.” What a helpful, considerate girl! I remember her saying, “Here, finish your drink,” which I obediently did. I wanted to rest a little before proceeding with the main attraction, fully confident of my abilities. Somehow I felt certain that I was not going to fall asleep even though my eyelids were very, very heavy.
Deeper understanding: Maybe more drug got dumped into my glass after I denied feeling tired and went into the kitchen to fetch a second can of cola. She tried various indirect strategies to get me into the bedroom. Apparently the idea is to give the mark one last big dose, get him comfortable, and reduce external stimuli so he will fall unconscious quickly. While he is drifting off the girl can rinse out the glasses, rub off fingerprints, pour some liquor down the drain to make it look more like just excessive drinking, and start to inventory the valuables. If someone else arrives, she just explains that the guy drank too much and leaves, having apparently done nothing bad at all. Phase four was getting me unconscious and proceeding with the robbery. She had so cleverly positioned me in the place where I normally fall asleep, far from the door through which she would later exit, facing a blank wall so that the chances of me opening my eyes and seeing her leaving with my valuables would be minimal. Most likely, as soon as she was certain that I was completely incapacitated, she quickly gathered up the booty and vamoosed. There was only a short interval when she was obviously doing something illegal which would justify an arrest. Cash and hard-to-get electronics like computers, cameras, and cellphones are prime targets. I had a pile of money in a wall safe; had I not been deeply unconscious when she discovered the vault, she might have been able to trick me into opening it. Total time spent in my apartment, less than an hour. No damage was done to the residence. She had placed me on my side to reduce the chances of death by inhalation of vomit. No point in doing anything that might trigger a serious police investigation, is there?
I awoke nine hours later when a friend knocked on my door. I thought I was fine: no nausea, no headache, still very relaxed. Pleasant memories of a delightfully flirtatious young woman circulated in my head. I was not outraged when I noticed the computer and camera were gone. Material things can be replaced I said to myself. I did not immediately realize that numerous other items had also been stolen.
Deeper understanding: Still semi-stuporous, I thought there was no point in calling the police; they might even have been in on it. I have heard many stories in Cuba about how thieves give part of the booty to the police and are then allowed to continue on their way. Anyway, did I want a big investigation with possible embarrassing publicity? Friends noticed that I was staggering around and repeating the same questions. The drug continued to impair my thinking but, as before, I was unaware of my weakened condition and did nothing to increase the chances that the thief would be caught. I did not write down important information or collect evidence.
Does the fact that I was affected for several days provide a clue as to which drug it was? At no time did I experience anxiety or hallucinations. My first drink could have contained any one (or two?) of the many known date-rape type drugs. I am guessing that it might have been 30 - 50 mg of nitrazepam, a prescription drug used for insomnia in Cuba with a suggested night-time dose of 5 - 10 mg. In only a few minutes, my thinking was seriously impaired. Then alcohol alone was probably used as needed to potentiate the effect and tip me into unconsciousness. It is best for the criminals if the incident appears to be nothing more than binge alcohol consumption. If I consumed half of the 240 ml missing from the bottle of Havana Club, that would have been four one-ounce shots or 48 ml of pure alcohol. Maybe I drank almost all of the 240 ml of rum. I can´t remember.
The taste of the drink won´t help you much. In an ice-cold alcoholic drink which may contain salt, lemon, herbs or other flavoring ingredients, the drug can be imperceptible. Pharmaceutical companies sometimes add mint or other flavorings to make their preparations more palatable. Strong alcohol in the mouth dulls the taste buds. The drug itself soon makes any drink no matter how strong seem like water. In fact, smell, hearing, and vision quickly become muted in an indescribably weird way as the higher brain functions start to shut down.
If you are consuming an alcoholic beverage, it will not be easy to recognize the extra intoxicating effect of a surreptitiously added drug. At first you will attribute your “high” to the liquor. Surprisingly soon your thinking will be cloudy without you realizing it. This lack of insight plays a very important role in the drugging process. Your pupils may be abnormally small or abnormally large, something a friend theoretically could notice. But within a few minutes you are too obtunded to worry about anything. You keep drinking. Your goose is cooked.
I had the girl´s ID and photo in my camera but she took that. If you should run into a woman in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana who could be “Dami”, play along with her game until she incriminates herself sufficiently and then turn her in to the National Revolutionary Police Force (Policía Nacional Revolucionaria). Have someone who speaks Spanish dial 106.
The moral of this is to be very, very careful when drinking with strangers. The circumstances will be arranged so as not to arouse any sense of danger on your part. Do not underestimate how greatly drugs can impair your thinking without you being aware of it. Since the chance of getting caught is minimal, drug-facilitated robbery is likely to become more common. Cuban criminals will read this article and further refine their techniques. You have been warned.
Date: August 8 2009
NEVER MARRY A CUBANA
NEVER marry a cubana in your life/for sure she will have man in cuba waiting for her as my x-wife had.
here is a sample of emial letters she send to her lover in cuba same time she was in my house/now i have throw her for ever out of my house and my life
los correos electronicos que envo a mi amante yordan en Cuba cuando yo era se casan con spiros en athens/i enga aba spiros 1,5 a o para el dinero y yo viva mi vida con yordan en La Habana con el dinero spiros env a/i est n orgullosos para mi m para hacer esto/en el final una carta de mi amante en Santiago de Cuba en 2007 / ahora los spiros tienen el tiro mi de su casa y su vida para siempre
De: yordanka<y ... @yahoo.es>
Para: tania<p ... @gmail.com>
miercoles, 3 de diciembre, 2008 17:47:18
hola Bb , como estas ? , ya hable con mi mama , y dice que si puedes
que no hay lio , que la pases a buscar pa ir al aereopuerto , y lo que
mas quisiera es eso , verte ahi en el aereopuerto y lo sabes , si
tania te presta el carro necesito que me lo digas , yo llego a la 5 y
30 , pero en lo que salgo de ahi sera como a las 6 y 15 , asi que
ustedes pueden llegar a las 6 que van bien , eso si puedes ir papa, no
te estoy presionando , solo dime si puedes pa desirle a mi mama que tu
vas o no , ella me dijo que te dijera que si , ves que las cosas van
mejorando, te das cuenta?
ahora solo necesito que me lo confirmes , pa relajarme por ese lado .
el unico problema es tu trabajo , te dejaran salir temprano del
trabajo o no ?, ese el problema , dime si puedes, te amoooo mi amor y
mucho , te amo muchisimo mi bebe y te necesito mucho , y cuidate ,
espero tu respuesta y te necesito , escribeme , que espero , te
amooooooo pinga , quiero verte en el aereopuerto mi nino lindo ,
muchos besitos ricos de tu mujer que te ama, besos
De: yordanka<y ... @yahoo.es>
Para: tania <p ... @gmail.com>
mi rcoles, 3 de diciembre, 2008 12:10:07
mi munequito lindo
papi aqui estoy de nuevo, la gorra ya te la habia comprado hace rato ,
es negra , esta de lo mas bonita, pero quiero comprarte otra de otro
color .Yo sabia que tu no tenias gorra, porque cunadome fui solo te
quedaba la blanca y debe estar toda ripia, jejejeje.
mi mangon en un ratico te escribo mas , te quiero mucho mi nene ,
cuidate mucho , yo soy tu mujer , y te amooooo , besitos pa tiiiiiiii,
te amooooo mucho, bye ha ya le escribi el correo a neray , estoy
esperando que me responda y todavia no he llamado a mi mama, besitos
mi santo, bye
De: yordanka<y ... @yahoo.es>
Para: tania <p ... @gmail.com>
viernes, 5 de diciembre, 2008 0:38:54
papi , me voy a acostar , es qu eestoy fundia y el catarro me tiene
algo mata y manana me tengo que levantar de nuevo temprano y voy a
estar todo el dia en la calle, te mando un besote y cuidate mi bbe, te
quiero muchisimo , escribeme , pa manana leer tus correitos , te
amooooo mi nino lindo; olle papa , la amiguita mia me dijo que tu
tenias resuelta la gasolina, si hay algun problema me lo dices , si no
tienes dinero o algo , que eso se resuelve , no te me vuelvas loco ,
que te conosco , dime qu ehace falta que mi mama te lo da y no hay lio
bueno manan espero leer tus correos me voy a dormir y te amooooo mucho
mi rey , eres mi manguito lindo , te amoooo mi bebe, besitos pa ti
,miles de besitos bye cuidate muchoooo mi nino lindo y dime si pusiste
la velita , bye tu mujer te amam , te extrana y te necesita muchisimo,
De: yordanka<y... @yahoo.es>
Para: yordy<l... @infomed.sld.cu>
jueves, 2 de julio, 2009 0:08:11
dime porque te sientes mal cada ves que llegas a mi casa?
te tratan mal o que? , que pasa?
yo me siento mal y estoy deprimida porque no te tengo ,cada ves que me
siento a comer , que voy a hacer algo , pienso en ti y ahi mismo , se
me quita el ambre , los deseos de hacer algo ,olle que no es fasil ,es
muy difisil para mi todo esto y cuando veo que no consigo trabajo me
empieso a pensar cosa , que me vas a olvidar , tu sabes por el tiempo
, ahora no se nada , estoy como loca , estoy al renunciar a todo esto
pero pienso y me doy cuenta que cuba esta peor , creo que no me puedo
rendir todavia, pero no es fasil , papi , me estoy volviendo loca y
aun , no he llegado como aquel que dice.
Se como te debes estar sintiendo tu , pero no es sobre tus hombros ue
esta toda la responsabilidad que siento sobre mi, es mi familia, tu
que eres la persona que quiero a mi lado , es todo , es el futuro , el
tiempo, la edad , son muchas cosas y mi mente funsionando , me uelvo
loca y lo ceo todo difisil , tu no lo entiendes tal ves, pero no es
Solo tengo claro que te amo y que te quiero , mas nada , pero al mismo
tiempo , no se si tu vas a tener la fortaleza que se necesita para
soportar esto, eres joven lo se y por eso temo , te quiero , pero no
puedo obligarte a nada .
estoy aqui respondeme por favor , te quiero mucho mi bebe .
tu mujer, yordy
I was in Holguin in February. Sitting in the Park de Flores one day I was approached by a real smothie. Hair oiled back short and a bit to slick for my liking. He told me there was a terrific Cuban restaurant in the Park, called 1527, but only Cuban could enter and they pay in Pesos but he would tell them I was his friend and if I met him that evening outside the restaurant he would arrange for me to dine there.
Little did I know that the restaurant in question is open to all, Cubans and tourists alike.
I was curious and wanted to experience a typical Cuban restaurant so i turned up at 7pm. After a long wait we entered. I kid you not he ordered everything on the menu. Moros y Cristians, Pork (Serdo) Plantain, beer, salad, soup, desert. I was not particularly hungry and just had some chicken.
The bill came to 100 Cuban Pesos. Despite the fact I had eaten lightly and the pollo amounted to 20 Pesos, with a beer at 10 it came to 30. I placed 25 pesos on the table and he looked at me in surprise. Awaiting his share of the bill he stared at me blankly and said he had no money.
This creep had invited me to the restaurant, eaten his way round the menu to the tune of 70 pesos. On principle I would not pay his share. He departed the restaurant like a rat, mumbled about coontacting a friend who would pay. Of course he did not return.
The restaurant manager followed him but the rat who claimed to be a magician from Matanzas was nowhere to be seen.
A genuine guy from the region of Mayari who was in town for a few nights to work on the local festival had come into contact with this parasite so offered to pay for him.
A word of warning, if you meet small oily greased back smooth talkers in Holguin or Matanzas who rave about a local restaurant that only they can get into, avoid at all costs. He's a hustler who will eat at your expense.
In Santiago we were approached by a tout who told us his 'Tia' had a great casa with roof terrace. Weary and sweaty after five hours on the road we agreed to have a look. Casa Vivian did have great mountaiin views even if the room was very basic, and was that a cockroach I saw scuttling across the kitchen floor.
Too tired to check out other casas we booked in. The situation was central, in Calle Lucia and Crona close to Padre Pia, round the corned from Balcon de Valasquez and the Park Cespedes.
First morniing we encounter an elderly French man on the terrace, entertaining a very young Cuban girl. He's about to depart for Haiti by boat he tells us, sans the ginitera.
That afternoon Gennaro checks in. 70 if he's a day, big beer gut and a face like Raul Catro. To our amazement he's got a 15 year old stumnner on his arm. Young enough to be his grandaughter.
After 30 minutes we hear her sobbing in the hall. He has not paid her, but she's not a jinitera only needs the fare home.
After five minuted Gennaro returns without another ginitera, again young enough to be his grandaughter. Picked her up in the Calle he bragged for 10 Euros and a shirt for her son. His last g/friend was put in prison.
Feeling somewhat uneasy we went downstairs and told Madam Vivian we no longer felt comfortable with this constant flow of traffic. On the defensive she yelled at us that we were lying, and no we had booked for 5 days so we could not have a refund.
Her partner Jorge worked for Cubanacan as reception manager. Club Los Amigos was mentioned. All very convenient for directing horny old men who wanted a night with a local girl.
it was the cockroach and the maid who asked if she could use our shower that finally did it. We packed and left for Holguin. Cleaner, hustler free and friendlier.
We were very disappointed with Santiago, found it to be smell, full of rubbish, and geriatric Italians and Germans with Cuban girls young enough to be their granddaughters.
Shame on you Castro. Clean up Cuba and rehabilitate those youngsters. They deserve better than to be selling their bodies for 10 Euroes to ugly old Italians!.
Country: United Kindom
Although they claim it's safe for tourists that was not our experience. In Camagüey on the 8th April 2009, by the railway crossing at the top of the main street at 20:15 in the evening my wife was attacked by a young man who stole her handbag after he had knocked her down to the floor, leaving her with nasty deep grazes on both hands and one knee that had to be treated in Camagüey hospital. She received excellent treatment from the Police who appeared most concerned. The attack happened in front of lots of people and many kind persons helped her while I attempted to chase the thief. I hope the Police get him before he really hurts someone as he uses excessive violence. When I returned to where I had left her she had already been taken to the nearest Police station in Camagüey by some kind Cubans. The problem was of course no one spoke English and we had to wait two hours before they managed to find a member of our hotel staff who spoke a small amount of English and who was able to explain the story. When they realised it was a violent attack they swung into action and my wife and I were taken by Police car along with two senior Police officers and a translator to the Camagüey hospital where her wounds were treated and recorded. The hospital staff were kind and understanding and treated her well with the limited resources they had. She was of course in shock. She has now fully recovered and we were determined not to allow this incident to spoil our holiday in Cuba. Sadly she also lost not only money, but also her passport that was in her hand-bag. We ended up spending half a day in the embassy in Havana arranging an emergency passport so she could get out of Cuba, in fact, the embassy were incredibly helpful and understanding.
However, when we tried to return to the UK she was detained by a Cuban emigration official who detected she was leaving on a passport that was not the same one as that she had arrived on, giving me more worries when she didn't appear through the door into the departure lounge. I had to wait 40 minutes whilst they carried out more checks before letting her proceed. What worried me was that as she had lost her money and credit card, she was not in a position to be able to support herself if they had prevented her from leaving Cuba and referred her back to the embassy. They wouldn't let me back in through the emigration doors in order to support her.
Having said all of that, we met so many lovely friendly people, visited many interesting museums and saw many beautiful buildings. We also stayed in some of the best hotels that I have ever stayed in and had a lot of fun, although we would never go back again there were some wonderful moments such as when we discovered the beauty of Trinidad with its magnificent sugar plantation houses and its lovely Caribbean beaches. You just have to be very careful and ladies - don't carry a handbag!
This is not a scam, but is definitely a type of fraud. There is a man at who is PR for one of the big resorts in Varadero. He is, of course, very friendly, interested in you and very likeable. He can arrange to take you to Havana or on other tours in either a car you rent or a car he's had another guest rent and is using for the day (it's highly likely the tourist who rented the car has no idea YOU are being guided about in their car).
We were there to meet this person on a recommendation from a friend. He needed a job in Canada, we had a job to offer in an industry that is suffering a great worker shortage. He picked us up from our hotel in a vehicle that turned out to be rented by another tourist.
Over the week he managed to talk us into letting him use our rental vehicle to go home and yet returned each day empty of gas. He always needed CUC to get through the pay toll gate. He never really explained but rather, got insulted when I asked where he'd been to use so much gas when supposedly he's only going home and back to get us. We learned our lesson; NEVER let anyone but yourself drive your rental vehicle. He was touring around other tourists for money, driving his friends to and from work, for money, ect. I'm so glad our trust and car could make him such a profit. (We found all this out once it was too late.)
My husband decided to put all this to the side and continue with the job offer, he figured he'd learn that you can't scam people this way in Canada and that he was only doing what he had to in order to survive.
We did the paperwork for the job offer and over time it was accepted by the Canadian government and all was done except for the Cuban consulate. Then he needed money for a passport, money for a medical exam; money for this, money for that. He got many of his Canadian friends to send him money for these things, using the same story with everyone and eventually people had handed over thousands of dollars. One woman in Manitoba is very ill, she was in Cuba for what may be her 1st and only trip in her life and this man managed to talk her out of 0.00 of her money only recently. She gave it, thinking the job offer was still open when in fact, we retracted the offer after he kept trying to get more and more from us and we found out he was using other tourists as well as friends we sent down there for vacations for more money. Eventually many of us found all this out and figured out how much money he was making off the big hearts and good nature of the Canadians he met in his resort.
He's bought a car (although he lied and said he inherited it to us, he told many others about it's purchase), gotten laptops, portable hard drives ect including all this cash.
The most interesting thing is that he has two houses side by side. One is sparsely furnished and is the one he takes tourists to "meet his family" and the other, where a friend caught him one day, is fully furnished with stereo's; computers, ect.
I am going back to Cuba soon and plan on filing a formal complaint of fraud against this person. He continues to use a "job offer in Canada if I only had a couple hundred bucks to go" fraud with people. If you meet someone who tells you he has a job offer in Canada, and shows you the paperwork; he DOES NOT, we withdrew the offer last year but he uses our old paperwork to continue to bilk tourists of their cash! DO NOT give him money for airfare, medical, passports ect! He is scamming you! He NO LONGER has a job offer here and does NOT need money for helping to come to Canada!
I am gay and I been in Cuba a few times and I just adore that country (music, people, Malecon, bars, Mulatos, Chinatown, etc). I am heading back again in January 2009 for another wonderful experience.
I had three bad experiences in Cuba that I want to share with whoever reads these postings. One of my bad experiences was at the Jose Marti International Airport where they â€œred flaggedâ€ me when I arrived in the country and kept me for about 3 hours. They checked my luggage just to make sure I did not have any weapons inside my tooth paste, soaps, peanut butter, pencils, ASA, etcâ€¦. I always bring things of that nature to Cuba, and at that time I brought too much. I offered some peanut butter to the female immigration officer and she declined it; she was a bit mean with me, by the wayâ€¦ however, no big deal, as I understood that it was just a security measure.. I did not pay any money and they let me go.â€¦.
Another time, two of my friends and I went to Havana for Christmas and we had a wonderful time. However, one night we ended up at a bar where local construction workers, welders, etc go for drinks, socialize, etc. We wanted to experience Cuban people from a perspective obrera (blue collar), and we met three Cuban males who appeared very interested in us as gay professionals; after sharing a lot of drinks we decided to walk back to our apartment (we rented one entire apartment for a week) and they were more than happy to join us and keep drinking there with us. However, once we arrived at the place, the Cubans threatened us to break the windows, mirrors, antiques, TV, etc in the apartment if we did not give them some cash. We were in the 11 floor in a downtown building and we were very scared. We gave them about 0 and they left us alone, but they told us not to call the police; otherwise, they were going to return and do something to usâ€¦.???
I had another bad experience at the Malecon in 2006â€¦ it was my fault as I had too much mohitos that night. The Malecon section close to the â€œprotestarium park/monumentâ€ is very crowded after midnight and turns into a gay outdoors club, and gay travellers have to be very cautious. Anyway, I was seating at the Malecon and a whole bunch of Cubanos and Cubanas came to socialize with me and chat, chat and chatâ€¦ After a few hours I returned home and did not realize they have taken my Cuban book, wallet and beltâ€¦. I find out about the missing things until next afternoonâ€¦..
Cuba is wonderful and I am glad I experienced much more positive experiences than negative ones. People are friendly, musical, warm, etc. However, just be cautious not to drink too much, as people can take advantage of you. Otherwise, set your alcohol limits and have a wonderful time!! Servox.
Date: 11-11-2008 0
Country: Canada (Alberta)
I was in Havana in March 08 by myself, I found everyone friendly and I felt safe from real crime.
The bigest scam I found was that people wanted to be my friend for a beer or two, for me that was a fair price for someone to talk english to.
I am thinking of going back near the end of December 08.
Currency change scam in Havana
I was in Cuba about three weeks ago and the following scam happened to two guys I met while there and I heard of it happening to at least one other group of people.
Cuban guy gets friendly on the street (as is common and from my experiance most of them are genuinely interested in chatting and friendly- information seems to be tightly controlled for them) He brings up the topic of the different currencies and the fact that things are much cheaper if you have the local curreny. After this, I heard two variations of the story.
One was that the guy told the tourists that there was a third currency that only locals could get in the banks. The tourists only had CUC and hadnt seen Cuban pesos- as many tourists don´t for their whole trip which is what these guys are playing on of course. The tourists weren't going to hand over cash to this guy and he eventually left. A few minutes later another guy appears starts chatting and just happens ot start talking about the third currency and how much can be saved if the tourists just have a small quantity of this currency. The guys haven't figured out that the guys are working together and eventually decide to get this guy to change some CUC for them. They go to the bank with him, he goes in and comes out a few minutes later and hands them two or three hundred Cuban Pesos for the 100 CUC they'd asked him to change. They chat a bit, part ways and a while later the guys realise that there are only two currencies and that the exchange rate is 24Cuban pesos to 1 CUC and that anybody can change them!
The second was very similar except that there is no third currency. The scammers convince the tourists that only locals can change CUC for CUP and/or that they get a better rate in the banks. The tourists don't know the exchange rate, go with the guys to the bank and hand over a few hundred CUC and get approx double that amount in CUP from the guys when thay come out of the bank.
I also heard that these guys target young Americans in particular because they can't or don't want to take money out of their american bank account in Cuba and so carry a lot of cash with them. This I just heard from a guy in the street, the two scams I'm sure about.
Otherwise Cuba is fantastic and in fairness I think you'd have to be pretty unprepared and gullible to fall for either of these.