Attorneys with the Global Liberty Alliance, a human rights NGO, filed a complaint with the government of Uruguay on Thursday urging the nation to investigate its deal with communist Cuba to import doctors to the country.
Cuba’s “medical diplomacy,” a system in which it exports hastily educated doctors and other health professionals to work with little to no pay in friendly states, is one of the most important sources of revenue that keeps the Castro regime afloat. Estimates suggest the communist regime generates over $11 billion a year selling slave doctors.
Doctors that have escaped the system — facing a ban on visiting their loved ones on the island for at least eight years — say they endured slavery conditions and abuse, filed fraudulent medical information that made them appear more productive than they really were, and were often sent into the most remote and dangerous areas of the countries to which they were sent after being stripped of their passports and told that, in the event of their death, no one would come for their bodies.
At least two Cuban slave doctors, Landy Rodríguez Hernández and Assel Herrera Correa, remain missing in Kenya at press time, presumably abducted by the jihadist group al-Shabaab. The Cuban regime has done little to rescue them.
Some of those who have escaped the slave doctor system are currently suing the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional subsidiary of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), in U.S. court for its participation in ensuring the legality of “Mais Médicos,” the Brazilian wing of the Cuban slave doctor program. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who prompted the cancelation of the deal by asking Cuba to accept that Brazil pay its doctors directly rather than send the money to Havana, accused the entirety of the United Nations of engaging in slavery over the program in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly last year.
The complaint before Uruguay’s National Institute of Human Rights and Ombudsman Office (INDDHH) filed this week urges that body, which is responsible for overseeing accusations of human rights violations in the country, to investigate the Uruguayan analog to “Mais Médicos” and cut any ties with the Cuban regime’s slave doctor program if it finds evidence of similar abuse. The complaint is part of a greater effort to “go local” and challenge every nation that forms the web of patrons keeping the Cuban regime afloat, Jason Poblete, chief counsel and policy adviser for the Global Liberty Alliance, told Breitbart News.
“Exposing the Cuban trafficking networks and assisting those who seek to leave these missions is in the U.S. national interest. So is holding to account persons, organizations, and businesses involved in facilitating modern-day slavery of Cuban health workers,” Poblete said. “By going local, we intend to do just that with legal and human rights teams in Uruguay and other nations.”
The official complaint, obtained by Breitbart News, argues to the human rights court of Uruguay that no evidence exists that Cuban slave doctors in the country receive a living wage or have basic rights like reasonable work hours and vacation time that they may freely use.
“It is known publicly that medical and non-medical personnel in these brigades are pressured to participate in said missions and fear reprisal from the Cuban state if they do not participate … these people do not sign a work contract — or, if they do, it is a type of contract of adhesion, without being aware of the working terms that they are subjected to,” the complaint reads. “It remains unknown if [doctors] really receive a salary … to live a life with dignity; there is no establishment of reasonable work hours; there is no free agreement to a work contract; there is no permission for free circulation or areas of rest [annual vacation]; and these individuals accept these missions under pressure from the Cuban state.”
The complaint also raises concerns given that doctors’ salaries do not go directly to the individuals’ bank accounts, but instead are deposited in an account run by the Cuban Communist Party. Uruguay, presumably, then trusts the Castro regime to pay doctors fairly, which evidence from neighboring countries suggests they do not.
Even if Cuba did pay its doctors as requested, however, the complaint notes that the official salaries for doctors are well below what is necessary to meet the cost of living in most of Uruguay.
“In the event of finding evidence regarding the irregularity of the facts relayed here that violate human rights,” the complaint demands, Uruguay should “take the necessary and sufficient measures to finalize said situation.”
The complaint is a preliminary step in Uruguay that could result in similar legal actions occurring elsewhere in nations where Cuba profits off of the human trafficking of doctors. It may also embolden doctors in Uruguay to sue the country in the event that an investigation reveals it was complicit in denying the doctors their salaries.
The lawsuit in U.S. court against the PAHO, in which doctors are directly demanding redress for their unpaid labor, accuses that agency of becoming “the creator, manager, and enforcer of the enterprise through which Cuba shipped medical professionals to Brazil under conditions constituting human trafficking under international law and U.S. law.” Unlike the situation in Uruguay, the PAHO was officially a signatory to the deal that created “Mais Médicos,” which allowed Brazil to skirt sanctions on Cuba in paying the government for service.
Pressure on PAHO resulted in the organization announcing this week that it would launch an independent probe into “Mais Médicos,” an announcement welcomed by the U.S. government.
“The United States and other key PAHO member states have actively worked with PAHO leadership to design this review into how Mais Médicos was initiated and operated,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday. “The review is designed to answer the questions that the U.S. government has raised. The United States will work to protect our partner institutions from any malign attempts to corrupt their true mission, while preserving the interests of the U.S. taxpayer.”
The timing of these legal actions comes as Cuba attempts to promote its Cuban slave doctor program to help with global response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The Communist Party sent dozens of doctors to Italy in March, at the height of the epidemic there, while encouraging European tourism at home.