Speaking on her way home, Vasquez wore a short, pastel-shaded polyester dress that she struggled to keep from riding up. Smiling, she revealed a mouth of crooked teeth — her biggest flaw, she said. “I would fix them if I could afford it.”
To find clients, Vasquez visits beaches and bars, and also relies on word of mouth.
The women like those who allegedly visited Menendez at the vacation home of his political benefactor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, rely more on the Internet and intermediaries who put them in touch with rich visitors.
Those women, known as “mega-mamis” don’t consider themselves prostitutes.
“We’re not like the average girl,” said Yaneisy, who asked that her last name be withheld because family members “would kill me if they knew.”
She has a day job, but at night, Yaneisy said, she can charge upward of $500. She convinces men to come visit for a few days or a week in which she stays at a hotel with them, receives gifts and then payment when they leave.
“I have ads on websites. They contact and we chat,” she said, explaining how she finds foreigners.
For Vasquez, the attraction to the profession is financial. For foreigners, “I’ll do the things that their wives won’t do. And then it’s done. They never have to see me again if they don’t want to,” she said.
Vasquez recalled one of her best-paying clients: a German tourist who had always dreamed of a night with two women and hired Vasquez and her friend to make it happen.
“We’ve become known as a place where foreigners feel they can come and live out their fantasies,” said Jacqueline Montero, a former prostitute and now executive director of an organization that assists sex workers. “It’s not illegal. … It’s easy and, for tourists, it’s inexpensive.”
While laws prohibit sex with those under age 18, prostitution is neither illegal nor legal in the Dominican Republic. And although it is practiced openly and widely accepted as legal by police, the legal gray area leaves women powerless.
“Women are left with no rights, and police take advantage of that. They arrest them or harass them for money,” Montero said.
In Boca Chica, women said the tourism police regularly fleece them. “They come to you — these are guys that you know and see every day, you know them — and all the sudden they detain you,” said a 24-year-old woman who goes by Orchid. She declined to provide her full name for fear of retribution from police. “And then you have to pay or someone you know has to pay to get you out.” That bribe can cost as much as $25, she said.
Asked about the allegation, the local tourism police supervisor waived his hand and said he couldn’t talk to reporters without the public relations office first clearing it.
For Orchid, it wasn’t a deterrent. “Tonight,” she said, scanning a beach of tourists sporting Speedos, “is going to be busy.”