14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2019 — The Cuban-Spaniard Javier Larrondo, president of the organization Defenders of Cuban Prisoners, in partnership with Solidarity Without Borders and the Patriotic Union of Cuba, explained on Thursday at a press conference in Miami that a complaint against the Cuban government as been presented to multiple international organizations for “slavery, persecution and other inhumane acts.”
Larrondo bases the complaint on the testimony of 110 doctors on the island who abandoned the so-called “internationalist missions” and whose identity has been protected because they are victims of human trafficking.
“We are in the presence of a tragedy of colossal dimensions: families broken by the separation, punishments against professionals forbidden to see their children for eight years [because they are not allowed to return to Cuba and their children are not allowed to leave Cuba to join them] for the mere fact of wanting to leave a job,” in addition to the theft of 75% of their salaries for years, explained the entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist.
According to the NGO’s calculations, the population affected every year by the “human trafficking practices” of the Cuban Government is between 50,000 and 100,000 people. “Cuba violates several international conventions of which it is a member, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among others,” added Larrondo.
The complaint, open to other professionals who wish to provide their testimonies, is available online and has been submitted to the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the European Union and more than 80 countries, in several dozens of which there are Cuban professionals serving on “missions” for the Cuban government.
“Cuba has deceived many countries for years, presenting these missions as a humanitarian thing when in reality they are a big business for the island, we are talking about earnings of 8 billion dollars a year, much higher than the 3 billion earned from tourism or the 4 billion sent to the country in remittances,” he explained.
This complaints comes at a time when media such as The New York Times and the BBC have published two reports on the conditions of slavery and pressure that Cuban physicians who serve on an internationalist mission must endure. Before now, and despite the data provided by independent Cuban media, the issue had not caught the attention of international public opinion.
As part of the methodology to present the complaint, Larrondo interviewed several doctors, who told him the conditions in which they are obliged to practice in third countries. The NGO Defenders of Cuban Prisoners also compiled labor contracts, internal regulations and based its claim on the articles of the Cuban Penal Code that punish those who leave the missions.
“Some 56% of the professionals declared that they did not go on the missions voluntarily and 39% said that they had been highly coerced fpr having a ’debt’ to the education system that trained them or for fear of being considered as ’disaffected’ from the Revolution,” explained Larrondo.
Some 94% of the 110 cases interviewed said that they would have abandoned the missions if they had known that they or their family would be retaliated against, while 41% said they had not signed any contract before leaving for the missions.
Among the doctors 82% said they had received indoctrination before leaving Cuba and 89% said they were constantly monitored and forced to monitor their co-workers. More than half of the professionals confessed that they were forced to violate the code of ethics of their profession, through behaviors such as inflating the statistics of medical consultations, discarding medicines and medical supplies or engaging in propaganda in favor of parties related to Havana.
According to Larrondo, the freedom of the professionals is limited to such an extent that they can not have romantic relations with locals, nor friendship with opponents of the Chavista regime in Venezuela, to mention examples taken from Resolution 168, which establishes the rules for Cuban “civilian workers” abroad.
“Cuban professionals are made to believe that they owe the State for their education. That is false, I studied in Spain free of charge until university and I do not owe anything to the State, because that is its function, to help individuals have more opportunities,” he stressed.
“Cubans pay for their education with interest, they pay for it with their lives, everything is designed to create slavery, servitude and deception so that people can not be free,” Larrondo added.
Through Skype, several Cuban doctors who escaped missions in Venezuela also participated in the press conference. The physicians are now in Colombia without documents allowing them to reside there legally and without the possibility of legalizing their qualifications to practice as doctors.
“We took the step towards freedom and fled Venezuela, now we are in legal limbo, without papers in Colombia. In Cuba we were not allowed to take our current passport out of the country or travel to any other country, because some of us doctors are regulated by our specialties,” explained Dr. Yunier Moranti Vázquez, who escaped from Venezuela this year.
The doctor Yinet Perez called on the United States to reactivate the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, a special refugee program for doctors escaping from missions, cancelled by former President Barack Obama.
“My baby is only five years old, I had to leave Cuba to look for a better future for myself and for him. It is sad and depressing how the Cuban government forces us to be separated from our loved ones for eight years without seeing them. I haven’t seen him for almost two years, What human rights are they talking about?”
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