Cuba // Havana //

Havana hassle


While Havana puts the hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs of all the other Cuban cities to shame, hanging around outside most of these places, and patrolling the streets in between them, are legions of jineteros – street hustlers and opportunists. The government now takes the high levels of tourist harassment here very seriously, posting policemen all over Habana Vieja and the streets around the Habana Libre hotel, areas where jineterismo has traditionally been most concentrated. Even so, many foreign visitors are still surprised by what can seem like an onslaught of touts peddling anything from cigars and taxi rides to a place to stay and a young woman to stay with.

Habana Vieja, the old town, is not only a magnet for jineteros but is also the bag-snatching centre of the city, with an increasing number of petty thieves working the streets, so take the usual precautions. Even at night, however, there is rarely any violent crime.

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