The slaves in white robes say enough!

For Marco Terencio Varrón, the slaves were “talking tools.” There was cruelty in the phrase but it reflected the reality in the Roman Republic, some 80 years before Christ. Raúl Castro’s regime, on the other hand, manipulates reality and calls “cooperators” the Cuban doctors he exports as modern slaves in order to pocket their wages. That robbery is now Cuba’s largest source of foreign exchange.

More than a third of the 90,161 Cuban doctors graduated in the island, according to the 2016 Statistical Yearbook on Health, are not in Cuba but in 62 countries, 35 of which the government charges for their services, according to official statistics published in April. These doctors and other professionals are located mostly in Venezuela and Brazil, and in 22 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; 27 are in Africa, 7 in Asia, 2 in the Middle East, as well as in Russia and Portugal.

By 2015, according to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, there were about 50,000 health professionals abroad, more than half of them doctors. Each one of them is confiscated 75% or more of their wages and that income is accounted as “service exports”. In other words, Castroism manages these professionals individually as State property.  

Former Minister of Economy José Luis Rodríguez, now a government advisor, last April revealed in Cubadebate that this export generated revenues amounting to $11.543 billion as annual average between 2011 and 2015. He also reported that such revenues fell by 11.8% – in 2016 and 8.5% in 2017. That amounts to $ 9,314 million in 2017, a figure that almost quadruples tourism revenues, triples exports of goods, and exceeds 23 times the value of sugar exports.

Indolence of the UN and the international community

It is shameful that the international community has not been outraged by the export of Cuban doctors as slaves. The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, María Grazia Gianmarinaro, visited Havana in April 2017, but accepted the explanation given by her hosts, who were the best disciples of Goebbels in the art of political propaganda: Cuba fights human trafficking better than anybody else.

The Special Rapporteur of the UN repeated to the press what the Castro hierarchs assured her, that Cuban doctors freely accept their contracts and can break them at any time. Obviously Gianmarinaro chose to look aside.

She ignored, or did not want to know, that Cuban doctors are exported as merchandise – the talking tools spoken of by Varrón – that they get confiscated three quarters of their wages, have limited freedom of movement in the receiving country, travel without their families and have to submit their passports.

The human trafficking expert should have heard opinions different from the official version and interview those who have broken their contracts. Dr. Ruber Hidalgo, who abandoned his “mission” in Brazil, told Nuevo Herald that the Cuban regime not only steals wages. He explained that the Brazilian government pays between $ 3,000 and $ 9,000 for them to settle on arrival in the country, but he was given $ 1,261. Havana took the rest. When Doctors Noel Fonseca and Diusca Ortiz decided to stop being slaves in Brazil, they were visited by a Cuban official who told them that if they did not return immediately to Cuba they would not be able to see their minor son in eight years.

The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FDHC in Spanish initials), as well as the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and other entities, have sent letters and reports to Gianmarinaro. In April 2017, HRF informed her: “Far from fighting against human trafficking, the Cuban government is probably one of the largest and most ambitious traffickers in the world.” FDHC also accused the Cuban regime of exporting blood and human organs.

The senior international official did not realize, or did not want to, that she actually visited the Havana in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when in the “legal market of hands” the masters rented their slaves to third parties for a while.

The Agreement with Brazil, a disguised way to subsidize Castroism

The pro-Castro government of Dilma Rousseff in 2013 created in Brazil the program “Mais Médicos” (in Portuguese) that beyond its humanitarian character was conceived really to subsidize the Castros. It is important to clarify that the government of José Sarney in 1988 established the Single Health System, one of the best in the continent, which provides free medical care and hospitalization to all Brazilians.

Two data show Rousseff’s Castroist intention: 1) Brazil’s Court of Accounts (TCU), which penalizes embezzlement, revealed last August that with the $6 billion that Brasilia pays for Cuban doctors they could train 52,413 new doctors in Brazil, and could build 14,068 basic health units in small municipalities; 2) more Cubans were hired than Brazilians.

Official figures published by Folha de S. Paulo indicate that of the current 18,240 health professionals hired for the program, 47.1% are Cubans and 45.1% are Brazilians. That is, there are 8,591 Cubans and 8,226 Brazilians. The remaining 1,423 are from other countries.

The agreement was negotiated by Raul Castro and Dilma-Rousseff with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Brasilia pays $4,433 per doctor per month to PAHO ($53,196 per year), which retains a 5% commission and sends the remainder to Havana, which gives only $600 to each doctor and deposits $645 in a bank account in Cuba to blackmail them, since that money is confiscated if the doctor does not return to the Island.

So, also discounting the $221 that PAHO charges (5%), the dictatorship appropriates $2,967 per month that each doctor earned with their work. That is equivalent to $35,604 per year and $106,812 over the three years of the contract. And much more if their account is confiscated for “deserting the mission”.

Demand for Cuban doctors to receive their full salaries

Foreign professionals from other countries do receive their full salaries in Brazil. Cubans barely 25%, or less. But such exploitation could be entering its terminal phase. Nearly 200 Cuban professionals have filed lawsuits to break with the Cuban government. They demand to be freed from what a Brazilian judge already defined as “slave labor”.

André de Santana Correa, one of the three lawyers who represent before the Brazilian court the case of some 154 Cuban doctors, told Radio Martí that the claim is based on the Brazilian Constitution, according to which Cubans “have the same rights” as their colleagues from other countries. He said that the possibilities for Cuban doctors to receive their full salaries and remain in Brazil “are enormous.” There are several processes going on, and in some cases they have already achieved that Cuban doctors receive their full salary.

The legal action is directed against PAHO, the government of Brazil and Cuba. The purpose is to challenge the agreement and demand that Cubans be paid their full wages. Dr. Yaili Jiménez, one of the doctors who filed a lawsuit, commented: “There comes a time when you get tired of being a slave.”

The fall of leftist government was important in this. The Rousseff government violated article 149 of the Brazilian Penal Code, which considers that there is “slave labor” when a person is subjected to “forced labor, in exhaustive days, with incomparably lower remuneration than the work done, based on debts contracted with the boss”.

Possibilities of success for emancipation

On October 18, the government of Michel Temer relaxed the concept of slave labor in Brazil to please agricultural entrepreneurs. It is now considered that there is slave labor when coercion is used, the freedom of movement of the worker is restricted, they are forced to work under armed security, or their personal documents are confiscated or withheld. That is what Castroism is doing:  the doctors are threatened, their wages are stolen, their freedom of movement is restricted and they are left without documents.

In addition, according to Santana de Correa, in the case of Cubans, the legal principle of “isonomy”, which means “equality before the law”, is violated, and “the social dignity of work” is taunted.

 Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also violated: “Everyone has the right, without discrimination, to equal pay for equal work … Every person who works has the right to an equitable and satisfactory remuneration, to his family, an existence conforming to human dignity.”

 

In Venezuela everything is worse

In Venezuela everything is worse. There are no official figures on the number of Cuban “cooperators”, but Venezuelan sources estimate that they are between 32,000 and 34,000. According to testimony given on January 16, 2017 to Diario de Cuba by Cuban physician Alaín Perea, who served in Maracaibo but fled to Colombia, he received only 27,000 bolivars a month (1 bolivar =0.001 cents on January 16, 2017); that is about $ 27 a month for food (housing is free), and he was deposited 400 CUC monthly in Cuba, which he could not use until he returned to the island.

Dr. Yordan Salgado also received 27,000 bolivars, equivalent to 5 dollars due to the constant devaluation of the bolivar, he told Cubanos por el mundo. Following its continued devaluation, today the bolivar is worth three cents. Neither Perea nor Salgado ever knew what salary they were entitled to and how much the Cuban dictatorship stole from them.

And movement control is more severe. In December 2015, several days before the elections for the National Assembly, Cuban agents of the MININT and the Venezuelan National Guard ordered 35,000 Cuban professionals not to leave their homes so that they did not get “contaminated” by the opposition triumph they knew was inevitable.

On top of that, Cuban professionals are forced by Havana to engage in political work with the settlers and coerce them to participate in demonstrations and vote for Chavistas, or they may lose medical services.

In other countries the same thing happens. In Ecuador, with about 200 Cuban health professionals, Café Fuerte revealed at the end of 2015 that Quito pays $ 2,641 per month for each doctor, but they receive $400, and another $400 goes to their account in Cuba. The Angolan government pays Cuba $5,000 a month for each doctor and the doctor only receives $500, according to Nick Miroff on the website GlobalPost.com.

Serious impairment of the right to medical care in Cuba

Due to the thousands of doctors abroad, primary and specialized medical care in Cuba has dangerously fallen. Many surgeries are not performed for lack of surgeons. That has deepened the crisis that erupted in medical services since the end of the massive Soviet subsidies.

Since 2010 some 60 hospitals have been closed on the island, which has lost a quarter of its capacity for hospitalization. This adds to the calamitous state of hospitals. Sometimes surgeons cannot operate for lack of gauze, or thread for sutures.  Lack of water; cockroaches and mosquitoes are rife. Patients should bring their own sheets, pillows, light bulbs, and sometimes even syringes, iodine and mercurochrome. The food is inedible

CONCLUSIONS

If the claims in Brazil succeed, it could mean the end of this exploitation of Cuban doctors, dentists and other professionals in that country. Everyone would feel entitled to do the same. Given the punishment that tyranny imposes on “deserters”, which includes not seeing their families in 8 years, some might not join, but blackmail by Castroism would become very evident. The media could denounce it. It would certainly increase international pressure on the dictatorship.

Most importantly, it would pave the way for similar processes by their colleagues in countries where there is independence of the judiciary. This is the case of Portugal in Europe, some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia. In Venezuela it is unthinkable for now, but the Cubans there would perceive themselves more nineteenth-century slaves than ever. In general, the emancipation in Brazil would feed unprecedented pressures to obtain a fair wage.

With the emancipation of the white coat slaves in Brazil the Cuban military regime would suffer a huge decline in the “export of services”, which would no longer be the largest source of foreign exchange. The nation would be even more economically dependent on the US and Miami in particular, which would have political and strategic consequences in the face of the Castro Jr. reign as president of the country. Neither Russia nor China nor Iran give away money. The disgusting human trafficking that no one has wanted to see in the United Nations system would surface worldwide.

Informe especial realizado por Roberto Álvarez Quiñones

 

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