Cuba: Medical Doctors as Castro’s Slaves
The denunciations of the Cuban missions is valuable as it exposes the hypocrisy of a regime that proclaims the emancipation of the proletariat but enslaves doctors
Last March, I wrote about the lawsuit by four Cuban doctors against the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for violation of laws, and international conventions against human trafficking and forced labor. PAHO acts as an intermediary agent of payments, and the administrator of a cooperation program between the Brazilian government, and the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.
This is about “Mais Médicos” or “more doctors,” a program which functioned between 2013 and 2018. The Brazilian authorities allegedly made payments for said services to PAHO, which in turn channeled them to the Cuban government. PAHO would have charged a 5% commission (75 million dollars), paying the salary to the doctors, one part in hand and another part deposited in their accounts in Cuba.
They are the Cuban medical missions. The accusation describes a real exploitation system, from remuneration to working conditions. Of the total money transferred, only 10% was dedicated to the salaries of professionals, well below the salary of a doctor in Brazil. The government of Cuba has access to the remaining 85%.
The lawsuit brings to light a repressive regime. Participants in the medical missions are recruited through threats. They don’t have adequate information about the destination, the duration of the trip, or the payment. They are not allowed to travel with all their families or possess their passport. During these missions in a foreign country, doctors are required to participate in Cuban propaganda and perform political indoctrination functions. Further, intelligence officials and agents of state security who pretend to be doctors accompany them in these missions.
Before my other complaint about the same issue, I have referred to the International Criminal Court by the NGOs “Prisoners Defenders” and “Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).” They have accused six high officials of the Cuban government, including Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel, for slavery, persecution, and other inhuman acts invoking article 7 of the Rome Statute that defines and classify crimes against humanity.
The complaint is based on 110 testimonies from doctors who left the program. I read the 400-page document, and it is as if I had already read it. The charges are almost identical to those of “Mais Medicos.” There exists an evident pattern: coercion, forced labor, and exploitation. Based on a greater number of cases, this complaint reveals the wide geographical dimension of the missions. The professionals declared that they went to dozens of countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and even Europe, exposing the true foreign policy of the Cuban government.
The accusation also exposes the Cuban government’s practice of presenting false health statistics, both abroad and on the island. In the medical missions, Cuban officials exaggerate the success of the missions, thereby directly influencing the monetary and diplomatic terms since these statistics are sent to PAHO, and the United Nations accepts them as valid information.
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