September 21, 2021

Menéndez Insta a la Administración de Biden a Ayudar a Frenar la Participación de México y Otros Países en la Trata de Médicos Cubanos

WASHINGTON – El Senador Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), Presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores, hoy le pidió a la Administración Biden redoblar sus esfuerzos diplomáticos para ampliar la campaña internacional para poner fin a la trata de personas patrocinado y facilitado por el régimen cubano. En una carta al Secretario de Estado Antony Blinken, el Senador advirtió que la dictadura cubana se está aprovechando de la pandemia del COVID-19 para incrementar agresivamente su explotación y trata de miles de profesionales médicos cubanos al mandarlos a México y otros países.

Le pido al Departamento de Estado que use todas los canales diplomáticos para instar a nuestro aliados internacionales, incluyendo a México, a dejar de participar en las prácticas de trata de personas del régimen cubano o cambiar dramáticamente los términos de estos programas para cumplir con las normas internacionales de labor y derechos humanos”, escribió el Senador Menéndez, alentando un enfoque multifacético para ayudar a los 20 países participantes a encontrar alternativas para abordar las brechas en sus sistemas de salud, así como una mayor coordinación con las Naciones Unidas y la Organización de los Estados Americanos.

Citando las conclusiones del último informe del Departamento de Estado sobre la Trata de Personas (TIP, por sus siglas en inglés), el Senador reiteró que la Administración de Biden ya concluyó que los “participantes” en el programa de misiones médicas al extranjero del régimen cubano reciben solo entre el cinco y el 25 por ciento de su salario, el resto de los $6 a $8 mil millones anuales son confiscados por funcionarios del régimen. “El informe [TIP] señala que los profesionales médicos cubanos enviados al extranjero se ven obligados con frecuencia a participar, se les niega el control personal sobre sus salarios, se les despoja de sus documentos personales, están sujetos a vigilancia constante y a amenazas por parte de las autoridades cubanas y, están limitados en sus libertades de expresión y movimiento”, añadió el Senador. “En lugar de proteger a sus trabajadores de atención médica de primera línea, el régimen de Cuba está utilizando la pandemia global como una oportunidad para exportarlos aún más para apoderarse de sus ingresos. Ingresos que inevitablemente son utilizados para enriquecer a los propios funcionarios del régimen y poder seguir reprimiendo a su propio pueblo”.

El Senador Menéndez es el autor principal del Proyecto de Ley para Combatir la Trata de Médicos Cubanos de 2021, legislación bipartidista que fortalecería medidas para que el régimen cubano rinda cuentas por la trata de médicos, enfermeros y otros profesionales de salud cubanos sirviendo en misiones médicas en el extranjero.

Puede encontrar una copia de la carta del Senador AQUÍ o a continuación. 

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Menendez Urges Biden Administration to Help End Mexico, Other Countries’ Participation in the Cuban Regime’s Forced Labor Scheme 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today is calling on the Biden administration to redouble its diplomatic efforts to expand the international campaign to end the Cuban regime’s state-sponsored and state-facilitated human trafficking. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Senator warned that the Cuban dictatorship is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to aggressively increase its exploitation and trafficking of thousands of Cuban medical professionals to Mexico and other participating countries.

“I ask that the State Department use diplomatic channels to urge our allies and international partners, including Mexico, to end their participation in the Cuban regime’s forced labor practices or to dramatically alter the terms of these programs in order to comply with international labor and human rights standards,” wrote the Senator, encouraging a multipronged approach to help the 20 participating countries find alternatives for addressing gaps in their healthcare systems, as well as enhanced coordination with the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Citing findings from the State Department’s own 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the Senator reiterated that the Biden Administration has concluded ‘participants’ in the Cuban regime’s foreign medical missions program receive just five to 25 percent of their salary, with the remaining $6 to $8 billion annually being confiscated by regime officials. “The [TIP] report notes that Cuban medical professionals deployed abroad are frequently coerced into participation, denied personal control over their salaries, stripped of their personal documents, subject to continued surveillance and threats by Cuban authorities, and otherwise limited in their freedoms of speech and movement,” added the Senator. “Instead of protecting its frontline healthcare workers, Cuba’s regime is using the global pandemic as an opportunity to further exploit them for income. Income it will inevitably use to enrich its own officials and continue repressing its own people.”

Chairman Menendez is the lead author of the Combatting Trafficking of Cuban Doctors Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation to strengthen accountability measures addressing the Cuban regime’s human trafficking of Cuban doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals deployed on foreign medical missions.

Find a copy of the senator’s letter HERE and below.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I write to encourage you to continue elevating our shared concerns about the Diaz Canel regime’s deployment of Cuban doctors under forced labor conditions and to urge the swift design and implementation of a diplomatic campaign to end the trafficking of Cuban medical professionals. This trafficking scheme, which has proliferated during the global pandemic, is present in at least 20 countries—all of which were rightfully highlighted in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. Mexico alone has accepted at least 1,000 Cuban medical professionals since the start of the pandemic. The Cuban regime continues to coerce “participation” in these programs, generating income from forced labor practices, while compelling medical professionals to confront grave personal health and security risks. I implore you to mobilize an expanded international effort to demand an end to the Cuban regime’s state-sponsored and state-facilitated human trafficking.

The Diaz Canel regime’s foreign medical missions are tantamount to a human trafficking scheme through which the dictatorship lines its own coffers. As the 2021 TIP Report on Cuba documented, “participants” in the program receive just five to 25 percent of their salary, with the rest—estimated to collectively be up to $6 to $8 billion annually—going directly to the regime.[1] The report notes that Cuban medical professionals deployed abroad are frequently coerced into participation, denied personal control over their salaries, stripped of their personal documents, subject to continued surveillance and threats by Cuban authorities, and otherwise limited in their freedoms of speech and movement.[2] As a result, Cuba’s dictatorship is among only 11 governments identified by the Department as having a state policy of human trafficking.[3]

Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the regime has deployed upwards of 1,000 Cuban medical professionals to Mexico.[4] This includes 500 deployed in early 2021, despite Cuba’s own challenges in responding to COVID on the island.[5] Mexico paid the Cuban regime over $6 million for the first contingent of 585 medical professionals in 2020, according to media reports.[6] Of that amount, the medical professionals received just $220 per month.[7] Instead of protecting its frontline healthcare workers, Cuba’s regime is using the global pandemic as an opportunity to further exploit them for income. Income it will inevitably use to enrich its own officials and continue repressing its own people.

I ask that the State Department use diplomatic channels to urge our allies and international partners, including Mexico, to end their participation in the Cuban regime’s forced labor practices or to dramatically alter the terms of these programs in order to comply with international labor and human rights standards. I also request that you partner with the United Nations Secretary General Guterres and Organization of American States Secretary General Almagro, to raise greater international awareness about the Cuban regime’s trafficking schemes. I further encourage the Department to work with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the private sector, and the international community to explore programs or initiatives that may help participating countries find alternatives for addressing gaps in their healthcare systems.

I welcome your prompt engagement on this matter, and look forward to working together to ensure that this Administration does all it can to prevent any country, ally or not, from being complicit in these unconscionable practices.

Sincerely,

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Press Contact

Juan Pachon