14ymedio, Madrid, 8 September 2023 — The security forces of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior have arrested 17 people linked to the “trafficking network” for the recruitment of nationals to fight on the Russian side in the war in Ukraine. Those involved will be accused of the crimes of human trafficking, trafficking and/or mercenarism according to each case.
Two days after the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which an operation against this alleged network was reported, several officials of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation were interviewed in the Razones de Cuba program, presented by a regime spokesman, Humberto López, to present details that were being demanded from the ruling party itself.
However, there was little that was new in addition to the number of people, of whom three are linked to recruitment and the remaining 14 are those interested in joining the invasion, described as a “military operation” by official media, “in exchange for residence in the Eurasian country and a substantial monetary remuneration,” which according to the head of the Cuban troops in Russia, interviewed by América TeVé this week, amounts to $2,000 per month.
Three are linked to recruitment and the remaining 14 are those interested in joining the invasion, described as a “military operation” by the official media
It follows from the words of the officials that at least one of the people they recruited was a woman, as the main evidence mentions “the confessions made by the detainees and the communications established by the (female) ringleader at the internal level of the criminal network.”
The authorities affirm that the network “enhanced the search” for “people with a criminal record, from dysfunctional families, to incorporate them into the mercenary system,” although they have not provided more details about the detainees and whether or not they had that profile, which the regime usually uses to define those accused of common and political crimes.
The program specified the classification of each crime for which those involved will be accused. On the one hand, that of human trafficking for those who “promote, organize, incite or execute the recruitment, transportation, transfer, reception or reception of people (…) taking advantage of a situation of vulnerability of the victim,” with the use of coercion, violence, deception or bribery.
On the other hand, the trafficking of people, for those who facilitate or promote the “entry or exit of people from the national territory, in order for them to emigrate to another country.”
And finally that of mercenarism, which would be attributable to the alleged recruits, for those who join military formations or private military companies made up of citizens of a State other than the one in which they are expected to act, and in exchange for a salary or personal benefit. For this crime, attributable to the majority of the detainees, very serious sanctions were specified, ranging from 10 to 30 years of deprivation of liberty, life imprisonment or the death penalty.
José Luis Reyes Blanco, Chief Prosecutor of the Supervision Department of the Directorate of Criminal Proceedings of the Attorney General’s Office, added that the investigations will determine the involvement and crime for each accused, while Eva Yelina Silva Walker, director of International Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke of the “historic position of Cuba against mercenarism, of which it has been a target on several occasions,” as well as international treaties and the promotion of initiatives in the United Nations carried out by the Cuban Government.
“Cuba is not part of the military conflict in Ukraine. It is acting and will act energetically against anyone who, from the national territory, participates in any form of human trafficking for the purpose of recruitment or mercenarism so that Cuban citizens make use of weapons against any country,” they said.
For this crime, attributable to the majority of the detainees, very serious sanctions were specified, ranging from 10 to 30 years of deprivation of liberty, life imprisonment or the death penalty
The father of two alleged recruits also intervened in the program, one of whom is, according to his testimony, already in Russian territory, while the other was intercepted by State Security, which prevented his departure.
“I have to thank the colleagues of the MININT (Ministry of the Interior), because they took him that day and changed his mind. I don’t know what they told him, but it worked, because he reconsidered and chose to stay here,” said Pedro Roberto Camuza Jovas, who regretted not knowing anything about his other son, who hid the reality of “work contract” to avoid affecting the health of his father, who has high blood pressure.
The information comes a day after the documentation regarding the Cubans recruited in Cuba was leaked, after a hack by the Ukrainian activists Cyber Resistance, who gave Inform Napalm lists, passports and other files. The group of mercenaries, according to this information, is made up of 199 Cubans.
“Immigrants and the poor of the former Soviet states are the most logical choice. Consequently, the exploitation of foreign citizens allows the Kremlin to attract additional human resources for its military operations, to cope with the growing losses,” the report says.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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