The Mexican Candidate to Lead PAHO is the Wife of a Cuban Accused of Slavery

Nadine Gasman, proposed by the Government of López Obrador, competes with five other candidates for the position of head of PAHO. (SemMexico)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 4 April 2022 — French-Mexican doctor Nadine Gasman was proposed by the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, as a candidate to lead the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the period 2023-2028, a designation that the Madrid-based organization Prisoner Defenders (PD) considers scandalous.

The applicant is the wife of Joaquín Molina, representative of the Cuban side in PAHO and one of those responsible for the Mais Médicos [More Doctors] program, for which the organization has been denounced in a US court as an intermediary for channeling payments between Brazil and Cuba. The plaintiffs allege that the regional affiliate of the World Health Organization facilitates the “human trafficking network” and “slavery” concealed by the Mais Médicos program in Brazil.

PD affirms that the appointment was sponsored by Raúl Castro last summer in order to obstruct the lawsuit filed in 2018 by four Cuban doctors who were part of the mission in Brazil. According to the organization, the former Cuban president commissioned López Obrador to look for someone who could hinder the investigation of the US Justice. In addition, PD asks that “PAHO structures be shaken up and scrubbed for the good of public health and human rights in Latin America and the world.”

Nadine Gasman was named as a candidate by Mexico last February. To do this, she abandoned the position she had as president of the National Institute for Women. The official has a doctorate in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, a master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard University and a medical surgery specialty from La Salle University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

To date, there are five people competing with her for the position, although until May 1 it is possible that more people will apply. The Brazilian Jarbas Barbosa da Silva, the Colombian Fernando Ruiz Gómez, the Panamanian Camilo Antonio Alleyne Marshall, the Uruguayan Daniel Salinas and the Haitian Florence Duperval Guillaume are her opponents for now. The vote will be held at the 30th Pan American Healthcare Conference of PAHO, between September 26 and 30, 2022.

Gasman has, according to PD, a conflict of interest to be the winner in that vote due to her marriage to Joaquín Molina. The official is one of the defendants in the lawsuit in Florida, against which he filed an appeal. Mais Médicos has three essential managers according to the NGO, on the one hand Heidi V. Jiménez, legal adviser to PAHO and collaborator of the ministries of Health of Cuba and Brazil in 2013, when Castro and Rousseff signed the agreement. On the other, Carissa Etienne, as current director of PAHO; and lastly Molina, then representative of the same by the Cuban regime.

Last week, a US court rejected PAHO’s appeal to stop the lawsuit filed by Ramona Matos, Tatiana Carballo, Fidel Cruz and Russela Rivero, the four Cuban health workers who denounced the working conditions they experienced as members of the program.

The United Nations health organization tried to stop the lawsuit using the immunity granted by US law, but the courts ended up determining that the organization’s financial activity as an intermediary was susceptible to investigation in the country, since bank accounts were used in the US to transfer the amounts. The court considers that the movements of money were necessary for the alleged human trafficking and may be the cause of the opening of the judicial process, so the lawsuit continues.

PAHO collected more than 75 million dollars through the Mais Médicos program and some 1.3 billion dollars were deposited in the coffers of the Cuban State using bank accounts in the United States, according to the documentation of the lawsuit. Of this, 85% of the amount provided for salaries went to the Cuban government, 10% to doctors, and 5% was retained by PAHO through its mediation.

“There is an international organization (PAHO), affiliated with the United Nations, that became the main force to allow Cuba to export its citizens to perform slave labor in a foreign country,” the doctors’ lawyer alleges.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.