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But this is sex.
Americans are still paying for sex in mexico despite the pandemic
Jaqueline Aguilar, 34, a transgender sex worker in Ensenada, about two hours south of Tijuana, told CNN over the phone that she returned to work because she had to make ends meet. Her clients now have to shower and wash their hands before being with her.
Many specifically cater to the thousands of Americans who cross the border from California each month, looking for a kind of fun that can't be found legally in the United States, except maybe in some Nevada counties where prostitution is permitted.
But on a recent reporting trip to Tijuana, it was abundantly clear that while the sex industry isn't as vibrant as it was pre-pandemic, there's a lot of sex happening behind closed doors. If the government says it's safe enough for the businesses to reopen, Adanna told us she'd go right back to work.
Nearly 8, workers are registered with the government but there are likely hundreds, if not thousands more that aren't registered. They are the two sides of a very dangerous coin.
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Calle Coahuila, the area's main strip, is normally teeming with a frenetic action bathed in neon light. So it's relatively easy to make the short trip. Challenged by the fact that experts on viral epidemiology would universally disagree with him, he would only say he feels, "completely safe. He had to let go of all his female employees. And it's a difficult enough choice if you're a shopkeeper or a cab driver.
He said he's being safe, wiping his hotel room down with antibacterial wipes and not eating indoors. Rather, she said, they isolated at home. That fact was quickly confirmed by the Americans we saw and heard on the streets and one American we met, standing outside a sex hotel where he'd been staying for a few days, hiring different women. But I still have to go out even though I don't want to. But, he's also helping them put food on the table.
Some follow the rules, some don't There's something odd about standing in an empty strip club with the lights on. But a closer look prompts questions. Shutdown Mexico's government shuttered its economy in late March. But it's on another level if you're a sex worker.
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And some Americans are still coming here to have sex. A Warner Media Company. Women in short dresses and the highest of high heels stand along the sidewalks, beckoning groups of men to spend some time and money with them. For so many in Mexico, this has been the pandemic's impossible choice.
The land border between the United States and Mexico was also closed to non-essential travel.
All of it is legal here -- or, at least, it was until the pandemic descended. No such data exists for sex workers. All very safe, except for the part where he has sex with a stranger, which he says he and other Americans here have no problem with. All Rights Reserved.
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Reopening his business would be illegal, but in Tijuana, it's clear other business owners don't care. Non-essential businesses were forced to close, including in the state of Baja California, where Tijuana is the largest city. Alejandra knows this but says she has no choice.
It was all done with the intent of slowing the virus' spread.
The new way of life is to risk your life Nearly 8, workers are registered with the government but there are likely hundreds, if not thousands more that aren't registered. Although the border is officially closed to non-essential travel, there are exceptions for dual citizens and few vehicles are stopped for checks by Mexican officials. His ignorance about the risks is what puts the lives of the women he hires in danger.
Aguilar, who is also a founder of an organization supporting transgender women and women in the sex industry, says she knows of at least three colleagues who had Covid symptoms but never got tested. At first glance, a lot of businesses look closed. There's something odd about standing in an empty strip club with the lights on.
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Now, my fear is the pandemic, to go out and God forbid I get infected and can't work. She has implemented a no-kissing rule and uses hand sanitizer gel throughout the process. Stay at home, be safe, but go hungry.
Smaller places have metal gates pulled down over storefronts. This is not a place where journalists are welcome, so we rode through the streets with Baja California State Police. The only way she can provide for her 6-year-old daughter is by going to work.
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We spoke to business owners and sex workers during the day in Tijuana, but the only way to get a true gauge on the situation in the red-light mexico is to head out at night. She cautiously agreed to speak with us somewhere private. They do so with people like Alejandra, whom we found working near a migrant shelter in the city. The government keeps track of workers in different industries who have gotten the virus, in sectors tijuana healthcare. How would I eat? She's been a sex club since she was 13 and her day-to-day strips have changed since the pandemic hit Mexico.
Another sex worker we spoke to who uses the name Adanna, said she's only been able to afford not to work because two of her regular American clients send her some money each month. Go out, earn a living, but risk your life. The front doors at some of the bigger and more famous strip clubs are locked. She's tried to put extra sanitation measures in place.
Mexico's government shuttered its economy in late March. Physical contact is unavoidable.
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She said the pandemic has hit her in two ways, watching her customer base decline while also exponentially increasing the risk of an already dangerous job. Why, if the sex hotels are closed, did many have women out front beckoning people inside?
Why, if the bigger strip clubs are closed, did many we pass still have bouncers out front? Many have left town or stopped working, according to local state police CNN spoke to, but there are those that stayed because they are supplying the demand that remains.
He says most of them went home but for those that didn't, he has an idea where some could've ended up. Massive strip clubs, some with hotels attached, act as de facto brothels. That meant that all the strip clubs, bars, sex hotels and even the sex workers on the sidewalks were forced to close up shop, restrictions that remain in place today.