14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Miami, 11 April 2017 – The treatment of blacks and the market in slaves brought from Africa developed by the European colonists has clearly been established as a crime against humanity before all contemporary civilized beings without the slightest doubt. It was a practice that “sold” human beings as if they were merchandise to serve as mere instruments of production, especially in the sugar, coffee and cotton plantations of the New World.
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries human trafficking acquired other connotations that made the United Nations address the issue as an international crime because it has continued — albeit in ways different from that slavery, but essentially with the same connotation — to subject people to the exploitation of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery and practices similar to slavery, servitude and the removal of organs. The victims have been mainly women and children.
The Cuban Government captures, transports, and transfers Cuban doctors and paramedics using the abuse of power it has over its citizens and especially the situation of economic vulnerability of those workers
Right now, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human trafficking is visiting Cuba. In order for the distinguished visitor to know an issue that she should investigate in Cuba, I present the case of the “white coats,” which in one way or another many in Cuba have denounced for years.
In this regard, it is necessary to refer to the UN definition of human trafficking.
The UN Protocol Against Human Trafficking refers to it as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
After reading this definition, does anyone have any doubts that the operations of the Cuban Government in sending Cuban doctors and paramedics to different countries of the world to “fulfill internationalist missions” constitutes real trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation?
The Cuban Government captures, transports, and transfers Cuban doctors and paramedics using the abuse of power it has over its citizens and especially the situation of economic vulnerability of those workers.
They are given certain small benefits, in a situation where the low level of wages established by the Government itself for its employees, allows it to obtain the consent of these employees to be exploited. At the same time, it appropriates between 70% and 90% of the wages paid by the governments of other countries, or by health institutions of the World Health Organization (WHO) itself, for the services of these professionals.
Medicine is one of the fields of those in which the Cuban state forbids self-employment, which is another factor in the pressure to force professionals to “accept” internationalist missions. If self-employment were allowed their incomes would increase and they would not have to be forced to “serve on a mission.”
These professionals are prevented from taking their families with them, but rather are forced to leave their children and spouses as hostages that force them to return to the country, for which they are also victims of extra-economic coercion
In addition, these professionals are prevented from taking their families with them, but rather are forced to leave their children and spouses as hostages that force them to return to the country, for which they are also victims of extra-economic coercion. The deception has also been used to obtain the recruitment of Cuban doctors for these purposes, since they have been offered perks that were never satisfied, such as the chance to buy a car.
To give an idea of the magnitude of this program of the Cuban government, according to its own Minister of Public Health, Roberto Morales, Cuba has about 50,000 professionals working in more than 66 countries. According to Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, the government receives about eight billion dollars a year for this slave labor. It is the largest sum of foreign currency entering the country, only comparable to that which comes from Cuban-Americans abroad, who send remittances to their families on the island, along with food, medicines, clothes and appliances, along with travel expenses for themselves and their families.
These elements are sufficient to accuse the Cuban Government of operating a huge international system of trafficking in white coats on several continents that includes flagrant and massive violations of the human rights of these citizens: the reality of the Cuban economy forces them to serve as slaves to the Cuban state, and be subjected to the situation of leaving their relatives behind as hostages.
The most recent example that proves this is a major government business is the recent decision to prevent physicians from leaving the country freely like the rest of the citizens
The most recent example that proves this is a major government business is the recent decision to prevent physicians from leaving the country freely like the rest of the citizens, unless they do so through such “internationalist missions.”
If United Nations rapporteur wishes to have complete information on this matter, in addition to hearing what the Cuban Government has to say about this, she should meet with some of the hundreds of doctors who have decided to abandon their missions and reside in the US or other countries.
Cuban human rights organizations, opposition groups and dissidents will surely try to ensure that this issue is duly investigated by the honorable Special Rapporteur of the UN for trafficking in persons, on the occasion of her trip to Cuba.