Safety

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Safety

Muggings and petty crime are rare in Cuba, though not unheard of. Harsh penalties on criminals act as an effective deterrent here. Although official policies have eased up on the persecution of gays and lesbians, same-sex couples should still be discreet in public.

Know that in areas where tourists are found you will be constantly queried about where you are from, quickly followed by offers for you to buy illegal cigars or shady invitations to private restaurants. One good bet is to surprise your questioners by simply replying that you are Cuban, from Santiago de Cuba. Although you will not be believed, it generally diverts the hustlers from their predictable script, and amuses them enough to allow you to be quickly on your way.

Women traveling alone can expect to get plenty of attention, though little dangerous hassling. Many women travelers actually venture to Havana precisely because of the ability to roam freely and without much hassle in such a big city. Remember that there is a heavy police presence in Havana, and a safe bet if you ever feel insecure is to wander towards officials that roam the streets at all times of the day and night.

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