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Written by Kieran Proctor

Is Cuba Dangerous?

Cuba isn’t dangerous for tourists. In fact, it’s one of the safest countries for tourists to visit. Nobody in Cuba ...

Cuba isn’t dangerous for tourists. In fact, it’s one of the safest countries for tourists to visit. Nobody in Cuba will ever pull a knife on a tourist. And firearms are completely absent from the island.

Where I have had problems in other countries, I’ve never had a problem in Cuba. I’ve faced attempted robberies and I have been stabbed a few times, while traveling abroad. But never have I ever faced, or have I ever seen, problems of the same sort in Cuba. The penalty for harming a tourist, is just too high. The local crooks won’t risk it.

Why Is Cuba Safe For Tourists?

Tourism is the lifeblood of the Cuban economy. Tourism brings in a major share of Cuba’s national gross domestic product (GDP). The cash tourists spend in Cuba, filters through households all over the island.

Because tourism is so important to Cuba, there are extremely severe penalties for crimes involving tourists. Cuban on Cuban crime carries lesser sentences, than any crime involving a tourist. Harming a tourist, is considered an anti-revolutionary act.

Tourists are like the cows you see everywhere in India. They’re like sacred objects to be milked, but not harmed. Almost every Cuban you meet on the street will try to milk you for cash, through various scams.

A Cuban will only try to harm your wallet and your ego, through a scam. But they will never harm your person. A Cuban will never resort to violence against a tourist. They don’t need too.

As long as tourists aren’t harmed physically, there will be no threat of arrest, negative global publicity and more tourists will keep flowing into Cuba daily. If a Cuban can’t get money from you through a scam, they will just move on to the hundreds of other tourists, that are wandering around the same area.

Cubans Will Tell You Cuba Is Dangerous (Scam)

Cubans will often tell you Cuba is dangerous. And they will try to make you think it’s dangerous and that you need them, to guide you around. That’s just one of the many scams.

Cuba looks like a giant ghetto. It looks dangerous in parts. But it isn’t. Telling a tourist that the area is dangerous and that’s why you should go with them, or stay close to them, is their way of keeping you and your wallet close.

A Cuban will tell you an area is dangerous, so they can keep asking you for money, or taking you to places where you’ll pay for them, or buy goods and services for which they get a commission. Cuba is safe, but the person telling you it’s dangerous, is not.

With that said, Cuba can be dangerous for Cubans. Cubans will resort to violence against other Cubans. I’ve seen Cubans try to harm each other, with large kitchen knives and bladed weapons. And I’ve seen street hustlers fight each other, for control of lucrative territories.

But a regular tourist will almost never see that side of Cuba. Most tourists will never know that the bags carried across the chests of street hustlers in bad neighborhoods, often have objects like kitchen knives tucked away inside. Because they will never pull that knife on a tourist.

If a street hustler pulled a knife on a tourist, they’d be off to prison for decades. The Cuban State doesn’t mess around when it comes to tourists. And they will lock down whole communities, to find someone who’s perpetrated a crime against a tourist.

What About The Worst Neighborhoods In Havana?

I’ve walked around La Lisa and 10 de Octubre, all alone at midnight or later. With a big glowing iPhone in my hand and with fat stacks of cash in my pockets. I absolutely looked like I was carrying a decades salary for the average Cuban.

I looked like a stupid tourist and an easy target. As I was wearing long sleeves and they couldn’t see my tattoos and they could hear me speaking English. And do you know how much trouble I had, or how many times I was robbed? Zero.

I was in 10 de Octubre last night at 1am. Yet, I had zero trouble. I didn’t even get approached by street hustlers.

When a Cuban see’s you in a place like 10 de Octubre, where tourists never go, they will assume you know a Cuban in that neighborhood. And foreigners who know Cubans, know the scams and aren’t easily fooled. If you’re in these neighbourhoods, they will automatically do the math in their heads.

They calculate that they can’t scam money from you, because you’re not the average extranjero and they’ll assume you likely know a local. And they can’t rob you or harm you physically, because you’re foreign and the penalties and resulting crackdown would be too harsh. So they won’t even bother approaching you.

Bad neighbourhoods can be bad for Cubans. But a tourist won’t be harmed or even hustled. And bad neighbourhoods do have good local bars and local Cuban food. So have no fear in Cuba. Go and explore beyond the tourist traps.

Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?

I’ve made my Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba available on this website. And I recommend you read it, before traveling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.

My Cuba travel guide will save you a lot of time and money on your next trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can arrive unprepared. Read the most complete Cuba Travel Guide.