Manoreys Rojas Hernández, a former Cuban slave doctor who defected from the program and is thus banned from his home country for eight years, said in an interview published Friday that he fears his children think he does not love them because the communist regime won’t let him visit them.
Cuba makes billions selling the services of poorly paid medical professionals to friendly states around the world. The Castro regime forces tens of thousands of doctors around the world to work in dangerous locales that domestic doctors do not tend to, offering them a percentage of the salaries the host country agreed to that is not enough for them to survive.
The Wall Street Journal estimated in 2019 that Cuba makes about $11 billion in 60 countries around the world selling slave doctors. The Organization of American States (OAS) denounced the practice in December as “human trafficking.”
Rojas joined the program as a trained orthopedics specialist in 2014. The Castro regime sent him to Ecuador, ruled at the time by socialist ally Rafael Correa (Ecuador has since ordered Correa’s arrest, though he fled to Belgium). There, Rojas said that his main task as a doctor was to spread socialist propaganda in an attempt to boost popular support for Correa.
“All the medical missions have a political ulterior motive,” Rojas said in an interview with the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, as relayed by the independent news outlet Cubanet.
“All those who leave [Cuba] for a medical mission have to pass two political courses where they explain to us that the main source of remittances to Cuba are the medical missions. Then they focus on the countries they send us to, the situation of the government [there] and the importance of knowing the achievements of that leftist government, which once there we must
“It’s a trap,” he added.
When he defected in 2016, Rojas was blacklisted from entering the country for at least eight years. His public advocacy, particularly given that he fled Ecuador for the United States, may extend that ban.
“I’ve had to drink my tears after explaining to them why their father can’t go see them, because they think that I don’t love them,” Rojas said of his two children, a 13-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. “We are the victims of a government that uses us.”
In an interview Rojas offered in July to the outlet Archivo Cuba, he explained that he attempted to enter Cuba twice since his defection, once after his daughter tried to commit suicide and once after his father died. His wife has since legally separated from him, as well, causing more trauma to the children.
“My daughter especially has been hurt by the family separation,” he explained in the Archivo Cuba interview. “My daughter was diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder and a year ago she tried to commit suicide. I traveled to Cuba urgently then and the Cuban government banned me from going in to come in. I was [stuck] in the airport ten hours without being let in.”
Histrionic personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a patient shows “an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Threatening to or attempting to commit suicide, sometimes in such a bid for attention, is listed as a symptom and “unpredictable attention given to a child by his or her parent(s)” as a potential cause.
“There are thousands of families in the same situation as me or even worse,” Rojas said. “I lost my father in Cuba. I couldn’t go to the island then either. I lost the father who raised me, just like my biological father … I have lost two uncles very close to me. I have seen my mom suffer, cry.”
Family separations and abuses in the host countries are part of a documented pattern of witness experiences listed by doctors who defect regardless of the country the regime sent them to. Outside of the United States, in Brazil, defecting doctors have launched a class-action lawsuit against the former socialist government there and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), a subdivision of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), which intervened to ensure the deal between Cuba and Brazil did not violent international sanctions.
Doctors participating in that lawsuit described a fraudulent and abusive system in a press conference last year, noting that they often fabricated data and threw away medicine to appear more productive than they were. When they did meet patients, the regime obligated them to pressure the patients into supporting local socialists.
In Venezuela, where many of them worked, the Cuban dictatorship “had us under constant harassment and stress,” doctor Tatiana Carballo said last year. “The thing that bothers me the most is that they made us falsify statistics and … to influence the population politically — in other words, to force Venezuelans, against their will, to vote for Maduro or Chávez.”
“They tell us often in Cuba that education is free, therefore we are their property,” Carballo said of Cuban regime agents. “From the moment we graduate, we receive very, very low salaries, then begin medical missions abroad.”
“We had to tell patients about the positive things the Maduro regime was doing and influence the vote,” Fidel Cruz, another defecting doctor, said. “I had to go door-to-door to incentivize people to vote for Maduro during the last election.”
Ramona Matos, another doctor at the press conference, testified to fabricating data.
“On a daily basis, you had to write on a piece of paper fake names, fake dates of birth, fake medical conditions, for patients we never saw,” she said, referring to her world in Bolivia under socialist ex-president Evo Morales. “These were statistics the agents following and controlling us forced us to write. If we didn’t write that down, we had to go back to Cuba without our salary and we’d lose the money frozen in our accounts.”