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Editorial: The Massive Export of Cuban Doctors, in the UN’s Crosshairs

Havana remains silent after accusations of 'forced labor'.

Cuban doctors.
Cuban doctors. MILENIO

In November of 2018, when DIARIO DE CUBA began publishing its study on the Más Médicos (More Doctors) program, the Foreign Ministry alleged that Cuban doctors in Brazil did not receive salaries because they were scholars, that More Doctors was a training program, that the idea for this program had come from the Brazilian Government, that Cuban doctors traveled voluntarily, that their rights were respected, and that all the revenue obtained from the export of these services was reinvested in the Cuban health system.

All these statements were then disproven by the evidence presented in the diplomatic cables of negotiations between the governments of Dilma Rousseff and Raúl Castro, in the documents of internal audits conducted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Health figures of the Cuban Government itself, presented by DIARIO DE CUBA.

In 2019 Havana declared, for the first time, how much it had earned in a year by exporting medical services: $6.4 billion.

As DDC research showed, given the current state of public health on the island, it is impossible that this amount is being fully invested in Cuban hospitals and medicine.

Last Monday it was revealed that the UN's special rapporteurs on contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking had asked Havana for explanations regarding its doctors sent to missions abroad, notifying them that their conditions could be considered to constitute "forced labor". The Cuban authorities did not respond within the stipulated period of 60 days, and they still haven't.

The most serious aspect of the UN's request is that it is the Universal System for the Protection of Human Rights that has questioned Havana's practices, and its observations transcend the country's medical programs, as these are only the most visible facet of a phenomenon that extends to all of society, with the regime having citizens -teachers, athletes, technicians- who are only paid a very small part of their salaries, based on justifications like sovereignty, independence and equity, these being increasingly challenged.

In US courts several Cuban doctors have condemned the Pan American Health Organization for its connections with the scheme implemented by the Cuban government. Havana may continue to remain silent, but sooner or later the Justice authorities will speak out, and the facade of humanism shielding the program for the mass export of doctors and professional services, designed by Fidel Castro, will be exposed for what it was: the exploitation of the Cuban people.

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