Human trafficking by Cuba’s Castro dictatorship: Setting the record straight

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Setting the record straight on human trafficking in Cuba and Saudi Arabia

Cuba downgraded status in this year’s #TIPReport because Cuban regime fails to provide trafficking victims the justice and protection they deserve.- Kimberly Breier, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

On July 27, 2015 the Obama administration continued its drive to normalize diplomatic relations with the Castro regime by whitewashing the dictatorship’s record on human trafficking. The State Department upgraded Cuba’s status after 12 years from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in its Trafficking in Persons Report, but there had been no improvement. Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) back in 2015 expressed both her surprise and concern that these were “blatantly political decisions” by the Kerry State Department that would “have a really detrimental impact on both the integrity of the report and progress in the global fight to end modern slavery.”

Four years later on June 20, 2019, the State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report is finally setting the record straight. Both Cuba and Saudi Arabia have been placed on Tier 3, the blacklist for human trafficking. They should have both been on this list for some time, and Cuba had been for many years because of its dismal record. The Pompeo State Department has restored the integrity of the report, demonstrating their commitment to end modern slavery.

CUBA: Tier 3

The Government of Cuba does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; therefore Cuba was downgraded to Tier 3. Despite the lack of significant efforts, the government took some steps to address trafficking, including prosecuting sex traffickers and one labor trafficker and imprisoning sex tourists engaged in child sex trafficking. However, the government did not take action to address forced labor in the foreign medical mission program, despite persistent allegations Cuban officials threatened and coerced some participants to remain in the program. The government did not criminalize all forms of forced labor or sex trafficking of children ages 16 and 17. The government lacked procedures to proactively identify forced labor victims, lacked a comprehensive package of services to include housing and physical protection, and detained or charged potential sex trafficking victims for unlawful acts their traffickers coerced them to commit.

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