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Cuba’s state-run love motels make a comeback

  • Cuba reintroduces state-run 'love motels' in a bid to reduce public indecency and "diversify the options for love".
  • The first motel to open will be a 16-bed property in Havana.
  • Love motels were commonplace in the capital until the 1990s, when Havana suffered an economic downturn.
A love couple is seen on the seven kilometre sea wall 'Malecon' in Havana Bay
Marco Prosch | Getty Images
A love couple is seen on the seven kilometre sea wall 'Malecon' in Havana Bay

Cuban authorities have made a move to reignite citizens' sex lives by reintroducing a series of state-run pay-per-hour motels which they hope will "diversify the options for love", the country's official trade union weekly Trabajadores announced on Monday.

The "posadas", or "love motels", which offer couples rooms to rent by the hour, were common in Cuba's capital, Havana, up until the 1990s, when they were converted to homes for hurricane victims.

Though private inns opened in their place, the 5 CUC (Cuban convertible peso) ($5) price tag for a three-hour hire – roughly a sixth of the average Cuban's monthly salary – was unobtainable for many citizens, leaving them to resort to "parks, dark stairs … Even the boardwalk," the paper recalls.

By reintroducing an affordable alternative, the communist state aims to end the practice of lovemaking in Havana's public spaces and give privacy to couples battling against the island's housing shortage and multi-generational living.

A young couple kiss on top of the fortifications of El Castillo del Morro, an old Spanish fort that stands at the mouth of the Port of Havana
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
A young couple kiss on top of the fortifications of El Castillo del Morro, an old Spanish fort that stands at the mouth of the Port of Havana

The first of the new motels to open will be a two-story building with 16 rooms and bathrooms managed by the Provincial Housing Company of Havana, which is responsible for a network of 27 state-run properties across Havana.

The new property is situated moments from a once famous posada, Munoz Chang.

Alfonso Munoz Chang, director of the Provincial Housing Company of Havana, hopes the initial project will allow him to set about restoring other love motel premises around the city.

"We believe in the real possibility of taking it back and developing it," Munoz Chang told Trabajadores.

"Our goal is to recover that demanded service of great social impact and, undoubtedly, very profitable," a translation of the interview read. "The main thing is to show that we can fulfil that purpose at the state level, and although we have the certainty of winning, we do not want to create false expectations," Munoz Chang noted.

Though a largely Roman Catholic country, Cuba's first love motel emerged in Havana in the late nineteenth century. In the early 1970s, 60 such state-run inns existed in the capital, though this number had halved by the late 1980s. In the 1990's all remaining love motels were closed due to "economic deficiencies," Trabajadores recalls.

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