14ymedio, Madrid, 24 August 2022 — On Tuesday, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a new report denouncing Cuban medical missions as “Human Trafficking.” The document affirms that this “broadly praised” program is based “on the exploitation of health professionals and serves as an important tool of international propaganda and an important source of income for the repressive communist regime.”
In its analysis, HRF details the history of Cuba’s medical missions, which date back to the 1960s and have been sent to more than 150 countries, and it details the main mechanisms used by the regime to exploit its health workers while selling it to the world as “medical diplomacy” and “humanitarian aid.”
The document also focuses on how these missions have financed the Government with “billions of dollars”; the export of medical services is the country’s first source of income, ahead of remittances and tourism.
The New York-based NGO thus concludes what has already been widely denounced by other international organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Prisoners Defenders: that the Cuban Government “has imposed coercive and reprisal practices on health professionals to prevent desertion, applied in a way that violates international law that protects victims of human trafficking.”
“The combination of international support and financial exploitation has freed the Cuban Government from the widespread condemnation of the international community and the adoption of structural reforms to end human trafficking,” argues HRF, which presents four requests to end this practice.
The main one is that the host countries stop hiring these medical missions unless the Cuban Government makes three changes: eliminating the ban on returning to Cuba for eight years for deserting health workers; paying the workers their salaries in full (versus retaining a large percentage); and allowing health professionals to establish employment contracts with the host country without intermediaries.
The Foundation also suggests to the international community that Cuba be eliminated from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and that a “transparent and independent” investigation be initiated into the responsibility of PAHO in the trafficking of Cuban doctors in Brazil (through the Mais Medicos program).
“Global democracies should implement sanctions against the communist regime for trafficking in Cuban doctors,” says the HRF, which finally calls on the UN, through its human rights agencies, organizations and programs, to prohibit “the financing of Cuban medical missions” and issue a “public sanction” of the regime for violating the binding treaties on human trafficking.
It is precisely because of the medical missions that the United States keeps Cuba on the list of countries that don’t comply with international standards regarding human trafficking.
Despite the condemnations and all the information collected by international organizations, however, there are countries oblivious to these allegations. For example, the regional government of Calabria, in Italy, signed an agreement with Cuba, just last week, to import 497 Cuban doctors at a cost of 28 million euros a year.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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