14ymedio, Havana, 10 November 2014 — In an article published Sunday, the Wall Street Journal lashes out against the “doctor diplomacy” carried out by the Island by sending health personnel abroad. The newspaper compares the system with the “slave trade” in spite of international praise.
Columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady, however, asserts that the doctors who travel to poor countries “are not a gift from Cuba,” since the Island earns some 8 billion dollars annually at the expense of the workers through the payments it receives from the host country – as in the case of Venezuela – or other countries who send funds to the World Health Organization. O’Grady reminds readers that the medical personnel do not receive their remuneration directly and that this money goes to the coffers of the state which only dedicates a small part to the salaries.
“It is the perfect crime: By sending its subjects abroad to help poor people, the regime gains from the global community the image of a disinterested contributor even though it exploits the workers and enriches itself at their expense,” writes the columnist. “This is a great business which, if were not carried out by Marxists gangsters, surely would offend journalists. Instead, they swallow it.”
O’Grady insists that “human trafficking is nothing new for Havana, nor is it limited to the medical profession.” Refusing to participate in a mission can mean the loss of employment—as Cuban Doctor Antonio Guedes reported from Madrid to the German international television chain DW—or have consequences for children’s university admission.
In 2008, some workers reported to the United States Justice Department the hard work conditions and the salary of three cents per hour they received during a mission to Curacao where they went to work in exchange for Cuba’s debt to Curacao Drydock Company. The relatives of the claimants, according to the report by the United States newspaper The Christian Science Monitor, “lost jobs and access to education and suffered harassment by gangs.”
The columnist emphasizes that sending medical personnel abroad is causing a shortage of doctors in Cuba, in spite of the delicate epidemiological situation the Island is experiencing, affected by outbreaks of dengue fever and cholera.
Translated by MLK