Billboard: Like at the Bay of Pigs, Defending Socialism
He rented his house without a license and no hope of getting one; the government had not granted any for nearly ten years. The area where he lived – near 23rd and L streets – was perfect for renting; very central with a lot of tourists. Those in the neighborhood with foresight made up their minds in time and were able to legalize their businesses, those with doubts were left with the illusion of living within the law and eating at the same time. The Cuban government drew the line one more time: those left out were left out and must live however they can, not one rental more.
With a house with three and a half bedrooms he decided to play his luck, almost everyone on the block was doing the same. Those who had managed to get the permit paid the tax; those without, hoped one day to pay it. In five years things improved so much more for him than in the thirty years he had worked for the State.
Those with the license, completed the paperwork: they wrote down the name and identity card of every Cuban whose feet crossed the threshold to visit a renter, and later forwarded it to the immigration service; you could rent to prostitutes as long as you wrote everything down in the book. Those without a license, didn’t write down anything, and chewed their fingernails hoping that none of the renters would get into trouble in Havana.
One day the police came to the home of my friend: in a raid on “jineteras” one of the prostitute interrogated had let fall his name and address. He began the legal process, they advised him to confess that he was renting illegally, assuring him that cooperating would make things go easier. He told them everything: he didn’t remember the girl, saying that at times the foreigners brought girls in and he allowed it. He said he wasn’t allowed to rent because for ten years they hadn’t granted any licenses.
He was not prosecuted for having an illegal rental business, nor even for enriching himself illegally. He was tried for pimping and sentenced to two years imprisonment.