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Two mulatos, Mateo and Caridad, grow up together in a port in Havana, Cuba. Caridad is the daughter of a white man who died in a shipwreck and a black laundry-woman. As the years pass, Mateo falls in love with Caridad, but she falls in love with a Mexican captain, Martin. Martin falls into financial trouble and has to mortgage his boat to Guevara, owner of the cantina where Caridad dances. When Martin returns to Vera Cruz, Mexico, to resolve his troubles, Guevara feels he "owns" Caridad. What will Caridad do when Martin returns?
This film has great music and dancing, including a risque performance of African "bembe", in which women tear off their tops and roll around in the sand.