CUBA: Qualified Cleanup

"First they set up a giant brothel," goes the cynical Spanish saying, "then they built Havana around it."

Most Latin American cities restrict their prostitutes to segregated zones, small and well-policed. But from the sea-swept Malecón to the heights of Vibora, Havana's prostitutes are scattered in a dozen different districts. Counting crib occupants, streetwalkers, bar workers, nightclub pickups and the girls in well-appointed houses, their number has been estimated at around 10,000.

In recent decades, the heaviest concentration of girls has been in the shadowy, shuttered Barrio Coloón, in the heart of the city. A quarter-century ago, one Minister of the...

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