San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Sex tourism

'Cuba Dave' may face jail time over Costa Rica's relatively unknown sex tourism law

Costa Rican authorities say David Strecker, known by his monger name “Cuba Dave,” was illegally promoting the country as a sex tourism destination.

(Via Facebook)

While trying to make a routine departure from Costa Rica earlier this month, 65-year-old U.S. citizen Dave Strecker was instead handcuffed at Juan Santamaría International Airport outside the capital and taken to one of the country’s most overcrowded prisons.

The man known as “Cuba Dave” became the first person in Costa Rican history to be arrested for a relatively new law that aims to curb Costa Rica’s reputation as a sex tourism destination.

Through a website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel all donning his “brand” name, Strecker positioned himself in recent years as a go-to source for male travelers who were looking to enjoy prostitution services in Latin America.

But according to a sentence-long “Sex Tourism” portion of Costa Rica’s 58-page Human Trafficking Law passed in 2013, the country prohibits “making use of any medium to promote the country at the national and international level as a tourist destination accessible for the exploitation of sexual commerce or for the prostitution of persons of any sex or age.”

Strecker is now being charged with violating this law, Article 162-bis of the penal code, according to investigators. The man who helped sponsor the law, former Justice Minister Fernando Ferraro Castro, said the article contained within the human trafficking law is there to deter criminal activity.

“Certainly the country has to protect its image as a tourist destination,” he said. “But it’s not just a matter of image. Many times the activities of criminal organizations, or those who engage in human trafficking, are connected to prostitution.”

Strecker’s web page, Cubadave.com, has been stripped of its content and archived stories, now serving as a fundraiser for his legal defense funds. The site’s domain is registered in Arizona, which has led to questions as to whether protection from the United States’ First Amendment should apply. But Ferraro, who said Costa Rica will usually work with international agencies from partnering countries when it comes to the Human Trafficking Law, said that as long as Strecker is on Costa Rican soil, he is liable to this country’s constitution. There it is explained in Article 29 of the constitution that freedom of speech issues are dependent on the corresponding laws related to each case in question by judicial authorities.

“Article 29 of the constitution also has its conditions,” he said. “It effectively says that in each investigated case, authorities must try to determine the effect the speech or writing in question has on the society.”

Authorities had been investigating Strecker for 11 months before the Sept. 4 arrest, according to a spokesperson from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ). Police confiscated a laptop, cellphone and digital camera at the airport.

Strecker’s lawyer, Alfredo Núñez, confirmed via email that the 65-year-old from the United States has been sentenced to two months preventive prison while prosecutors build a case, and could face up to eight years in prison if convicted. He is currently confined in San Sebastián Preventive Prison, south of San José.

“The judge took into consideration the possibility of [Strecker] fleeing the country since he has no roots in Costa Rica,” Núnez said of the ruling via an email exchange with The Tico Times. The lawyer would not comment as to what the defense’s official position will be when a trial begins, although the Costa Rican Constitution’s freedom of speech article likely will play an important role when being interpreted by judges against the 2013 law against sex tourism promotion.

As far back as 2013, Strecker received warnings from commenters on his website and Facebook page to tone down the nature of his content. According to a profile by the Miami New Times on Strecker, “Cuba Dave” was detained by customs officers in the Dominican Republic after one of his many visits to the island. Strecker also has spent a considerable amount of time chronicling his exploits in the Dominican Republic and wrote a guide book for single men visiting the town of Sosua, called “Cuba Dave’s Guide to Sosua, Dominican Republic,” which has been removed from Amazon.

As he describes in a 2013 YouTube interview, Strecker’s website contained photographs, first-person stories and updates detailing the legal prostitution scene in Latin America. In the video taken two years ago, Strecker estimates that he received 100 emails per week from men traveling to the countries and seeking advice on prostitution.

“One of the biggest problems here is guys come here looking for love,” he says. “What they really don’t understand is that this is a business. …You don’t come here to fall in love. You come here to have fun.”

Strecker first started coming to Costa Rica in 2005. Since then he has entered through the Juan Santamaría airport nearly 40 times, according to immigration records.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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bill watson

Now as the exodus of sex tourists to Manila, and Bangkok begins; will the sex workers begin “free cuba dave” marches?

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Ken Morris

There is a dimension to this arrest as well as the law that authorized it that many defender’s of Cuba Dave miss. In his own words:

“One of the biggest problems here is guys come here looking for love. What they really don’t understand is that this is a business. …You don’t come here to fall in love. You come here to have fun.”

What Cuba Dave and other sex tourists don’t realize is they have played a large role in turning sex into a business for tourists. Yes, I realize that prostitution is legal and brothels would exist without a single sex tourist, but until around the 1990s foreigners did come to Costa Rica and sometimes find love. I know of several gringo/tica marriages in which the kids are now adults, but can only think of one that has been contracted since 2005 that seems durable. And if you talk to the long time expats or ticas, they will tell you that the “dating” scene has changed dramatically over the last several decades. In their words, it’s all about negotiating fees and services now–in short it’s become a business–when it was never like this before.

Moreover, if you listen to the women consorting with sex tourists or read studies like those of Schifter, you will realize that even today many don’t feel like, act like, or want to be businesswomen. Indeed, if I had a dime for every sex tourist I have heard laughing at what lousy businesswomen the prostitutes are (and sometimes even arrogantly lecturing the women on business), I’d be a very rich man.

It’s the sex tourists who impose this business model onto the country, yet they don’t even realize that they have.

And the imposition of this business model onto the country hurts the single male expats who don’t want to participate in the so-called sex industry by preventing women who aren’t prostitutes from associating with us. Yes, many latinas are ashamed to be seen with a gringo since that brands her as a prostitute. Thus, Cuba Dave becomes right: Any gringo looking for love is not likely to find it, since any woman looking for love too is not going to associate with a reprehensible gringo, thanks to Cuba Dave and his ilk.

Plus, if you talk to the sex tourists and sexpats, you will discover a lot of heartbroken men. Their “problem,” if it is a problem, is that they have actually stupidly fallen in love in a system that guys like Cuba Dave promote as being alien to love.

Unlike some others, I’m not opposed to prostitution or gringos participating. However, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and it appears to me that Cuba Dave crossed these lines big time. If it takes arresting him to get the message across that sex tourists and sexpats should tone it down, then it’s all for the good.

The issues are after all cultural sensitivity and individual choice. Guys like Cuba Dave don’t understand the culture they mangle and then promote, and instead create a culture of gringos that prevents the rest of us from making a different choice than they make.

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Rick Drigo

Certainly any pervert defending Dave is going to focus on “two consenting adults” but what they won’t say is that if they can they will do children, pedophiles are part of the deal.

If Dave has such a great heart, he should have set this pimping business in his own home town.

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poopafficianado

A Bilderberg police state is always a great place!

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rukding

Anyone who believes that what “Cuba Dave” is/was doing is ok is simply advocating the exploitation of women in general. To suggest that Costa Rica is misguided in its willingness to take a hit to its bottom line in terms of tourist dollars, is simply incredible, and suggests that those advocating a contrary position to that of the Costa Rican Constitution are those most willing to exploit women sexually. Costa Rica should be commended for its willingness to pursue a higher moral ground. Well done Costa Rica! As for Cuba Dave? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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Edward Bock

U are insane the guy is in prison without trial for 6 months thats not justice and as for me i will never return to that country ////////////All Americans should boycott travel there for a system that has no justice ///////////Prostitution is legal there so stop with the nonsense /////

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Matthew Frederick

So then why not make prostitution illegal, as clearly based on what you just said the Government and the people of Costa Rica also support the exploitation of women by making it legal..

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poopafficianado

It seems you would like to get caught up in totalitarianism. Good luck with it! For time immemorial, it has always been sheerly rewarding to human populations!

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rukding

Might I simply suggest that you seek an alternative destination for imbibing in your fetishes and depravity towards other human beings.

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Matthew Frederick

But it is legal in Costa Rica…Approved by your own Government…

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rukding

And that just makes it ok in your morally deprived mind. Good for you. Have you ever considered that perhaps it should not be legal? Have you ever considered that it is morally wrong to subject other human beings to abuse because their status in life allows it? If pedophelia were legal, would you partake in abusing young children because someone said it was ok? Where is your moral compass pointing, or do you have one? Instead of partaking in the abuse of human beings, why not attempt to lift them up and out of their current status in life and give them a better one?

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Boise

CubaDave is perhaps the epitome of the sex tourist. Over enthusiastic about his hobby he disregarded warning that he was pushing the boundaries of this obscure law. Thousands of men fed up with gringa sexual shutdown flock to friendlier climes each year to have sex with poor women convinced that providing for their children takes precedence over any scruples they might have about selling sex. And Dave loved these women, gave them money, went home to work as a carpenter’s helper until he saved up enough money to again enjoy female company.
Now he is in prison with a knife over his had cutting off the last of his sexual active years. And what a prison it is fit only for the killers of children, rapists and swindlers.
Any man over 50 knows that life in the USA without a companionate relationship means no sex except by purchase. If he has lost his companion to death or divorce he is just out of luck despite a biology built for many more years of sexual behavior. That is the gringo world. So men well enough off to travel the world to find women who have been abused by their own government and culture to breed babies with love but no men to help them with their task that nature instilled in them.
And Dave sits in jail and anyone with an ounce of sense will take his next flight to Colombia, Brazil, Cuba (for Canadian Gringos), Ecuador….the list is endless, the poor always with us.
And Costa Rica can take another hit to it’s bottom line.

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Edward Bock

So right on good for u , the idiots that ok this do not know justice ////////// This could happen to any American throw u in jail without trial for over six months ////////////America wake up screw Costa Rica and all should avoid going there

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Rusty

In every town though out Costa Rica has their “massage parlors” and no tell motel/pension for a tryst, and every local knows about it as well. Places like Craig’s list under personals are full of ads by the parlors to individuals. Hotel/Casino here in San Jose to Jaco beach are well known for the hook ups. As long as there are no pimps .. So how does the local massage parlor get away from the law as promoting? Cuba Dave is going to be the example of Costa Rica. When in fact consenting adults in their own privacy can do what being done since man and women walked here on earth. Sorry Dave, your ego made you a target and embarrassed the country exposing their” secret”. Once entangled in the courts here becomes a money pit and a long drawn out process.

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Steve Someone

Rusty, you just broke the law and can now be sentenced to up to 8 years in prison in Costa Rica. I’ve wanted to visit Costa Rica, and not only for the women, but now I’m having serious second thoughts. There’s very little protection of freedom in Costa Rica. Prisons should be for people who physically injure, sexually attack, or kill people, or steal in one way or another and very little else. All other laws are themselves immoral.

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Real Estate Guy

And on this news costa rica’s economic outlook has been revised to negative as sex tourism takes a big hit. Costa Rican hypocrisy at its best….

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tmcilwain

WAY TO GO COSTA RICA!!!! For upholding your Human Trafficking Law

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poopafficianado

Yes! The road to totalitarianism is exhilarating for the human species! Always has been!

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SirVivor

Information about legal activities should be widely available regardless of moralistic opinions since this is a public safety issue. There needs to be factual and informative information regarding legal prostitution to keep both visitors and prostitutes safe and informed. If we take away sources of information about prostitution it will create more problems than it will solve. Anytime you force a business underground the potential for increased crime will follow. We already have enough visitors to Costa Rica being robbed and worse and there is a whole element of crime already associated with prostitution here. We do not need to make it worse by keeping visitors in the dark – especially when it comes to their safety.

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