14ymedio, Havana, 4 June 2020 — The Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD) organization accuses Norway and Luxembourg of contributing to the financing of the slavery system of Cuban doctors who work on international missions and asks them to review their triangular collaboration agreements if they want to continue being an example in human rights to the whole world and not face a complaint before the European Union Court of Human Rights.
The NGO bases its accusations on the economic participation of both countries in two missions of the Cuban medical brigades, Haiti and Cape Verde. The NGO has investigated these missions in depth including what the health professionals were subjected to in the usual conditions, which can be considered trafficking in persons, slavery and forced labor.
In the case of Haiti, the brigade was established in 1999 and continues to today, with a total of 348 health workers, of which the total number of certified doctors is unknown. The Cuban Prisoners Defenders study emphasizes this point, which insists it has total respect for professionals and their level, but shows their surprise at the high number of people who practice without passing their degree. “80% of the Cuban doctors in Haiti declare that they do not have their academic degrees, among other things because they prevent them from taking any degree from the Island, just as they are not allowed to carry their current passport with them.”
Norway, a country that does not belong to the European Union (EU), although it does belong to the European Economic Area, has contributed a total of 2.5 million dollars through three agreements of this type (triangular) since 2012, to the support of the brigade in Haiti. The money contributed by Oslo was mainly destined to the construction of permanent medical infrastructure, but a around 800,000 dollars were planned for the Cuban brigade.
In Haiti, Cuban doctors earn $ 250 a month, less than the already poor salary of local doctors, who pocket about $ 400.
In the case of Luxembourg, which is a member of the EU, the cooperation is more recent. This March it signed an agreement endowed with almost half a million euros for the establishment of a contingent of Cuban doctors in Cape Verde.
According to CPD information, the group established in that African archipelago is made up of 79 collaborators who provide their three-years of services in different health areas, in addition to another 33 belonging to the Henry Reeve brigade, who arrived on April 22. Twenty of them are there exclusively to combat Covid-19 and are financed by a tripartite agreement with Luxembourg.
In the specific case of workers in Cape Verde, CPD cites an example of the surveillance to which the doctors are subjected, among other things. According to the report, on August 7, 2017, a communication between the office of the then Minister of Public Health, Roberto Morales, reached the embassy in Madrid, with a copy to the ambassador in Cape Verde. It was a request, by order of Colonel Jesús López -Gavilán, head of the Health Department of the Ministry of Interior, that an official from the diplomatic headquarters in Spain go to the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport to supervise the stopover of five Cape Verdean physicians.
The direction was “to investigate and check the communication with family members abroad” since, according to the payer, one of them had shown “strong indications and intentions to ’desert’.”
CPD recalls that it has investigated the treatment of Cuban doctors abroad since 2018 and that in May 2019 it filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court and with the United Nations documenting possible crimes of forced labor, human trafficking and slavery.
For this reason, the CPD is warning Norway and Luxembourg, “where their citizens enjoy full rights and freedoms,” of the consequences that their actions may have “out of a misguided desire for solidarity.” And it asks both countries and the European institutions as a whole to confront this scheme through which the Cuban State profits.
The organization maintains that it is not against the provision of medical services in other countries, but claims the importance of it being done in terms that respect human rights and international labor law, in addition to the transparency due to the parties.
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