Menéndez Pide que la Organización Panamericana de la Salud Rinda Cuentas Sobre su Complicidad Con Facilitar la Trata de Doctores Cubanos
WASHINGTON – El Senador Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), Presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado y el Latino de Más Alto Rango en el Congreso, acudió al pleno del Senado de los Estados Unidos el día de hoy para subrayar su preocupación con la decisión de la administración Biden de presentar un escrito de amicus curiae en el caso judicial Ramona Matos Rodriguez, et al., v. Pan American Health Organization, que incluye serias acusaciones en contra de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (PAHO, por sus siglas en inglés) por facilitar operaciones de trata de personas.
“La participación de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud en los programas de trata de personas de la dictadura cubana no pueden ser ignorada. Una rendición de cuentas es necesaria urgentemente,” dijo el Senador Menéndez, al condenar las iniciativas de la organización que forzó a más de 10,000 profesionales de la salud Cubanos a trabajar con condiciones forzosas en Brasil. “Con este escrito amicus curiae, la administración Biden desaprovechó una oportunidad de avanzar el incomparable liderazgo de los Estados Unidos en el combate de todas las formas de la trata de personas y la esclavitud moderna. Es una gran decepción, por lo que le pido al Presidente y al Secretario de Estado que redoblen sus esfuerzos en presionar a Cuba para que termine con su programa de trata de doctores y de los muchos otros abusos que siguen cometiendo en contra el pueblo cubano.”
A continuación, el discurso del Senador Menéndez en su totalidad.
“Mr. President, I rise today to express significant concern about the Biden administration’s decision to file an amicus brief in the case of Ramona Matos Rodriguez, et al., v. Pan American Health Organization. This case involves serious allegations that the Pan-American Health Organization facilitated human trafficking, and regrettably places the Administration in a position in which it is undercutting efforts by the victims of the Cuban dictatorship’s forced labor schemes.
Let me be clear, I am strong advocate for the Pan American Health Organization and its mission strengthening health systems across Latin America and the Caribbean. Given the significant impact of COVID-19 on the region, PAHO’s efforts are needed now more than ever, and I have fought to ensure that the Pan American Health Organization has the resources it needs to carry out its life-saving work during the pandemic and throughout a good period of time of my congressional career.
However, I also firmly believe that Pan American Health Organization must be held accountable for its past transgressions, including the unacceptable role that it played facilitating a program that subjected more than 10,000 Cuban medical professionals to forced labor conditions in Brazil. From 2013-2019, the Pan American Health Organization profited from its participation in Brazil’s Mais Médicos program—an initiative that allowed Cuba’s dictatorship to earn income from trafficking Cuban doctors.
The Cuban regime’s so-called foreign medical missions are nothing more than human trafficking. In November 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons raised concerns that the Cuban regime’s trafficking of medical professionals constitutes forced labor and modern slavery.
In fact, the Department of State’s last Trafficking in Persons Report found the Cuban regime garnishes the wages of its medical professionals that serve overseas, surveils them, confiscates their passports – so they can’t leave – and retaliates against their family members in Cuba if they leave the program. So if you send me abroad, don't pay me, get money from the country that you send me from, take away my passport, and retaliate against my family, that's the ultimate forced labor.
Cuba’s dictatorship generated more than $6 billion in profit from its forced labor schemes in 2018 alone as it trafficked tens of thousands of Cuban medical professionals to some 60 countries.
The Pan American Health Organization’s participation in the Cuban dictatorship’s human trafficking programs cannot be overlooked and accountability is urgently needed.
It is against this backdrop that I have reviewed the Biden administration’s amicus brief in Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization. While the brief addresses some of the technical aspects of the case, it effectively does nothing to condemn Cuba’s dictatorship for human trafficking or the Pan American Health Organization’s participation in those programs that were human trafficking.
For over two decades, the United States has led the international community in combatting human trafficking. In 2000, the United States enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act – something I was involved with in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – which has set a standard for countries around the world to strengthen efforts to prosecute traffickers, increase protections for victims and expand foreign assistant programs. We have built a range of financial tools to combat the human trafficking industry and its illicit profits. We have spearheaded efforts to ensure slavery-free supply chains that respect workers’ rights and prevent against forced labor conditions around the world become more and more a reality.
The Biden administration squandered an opportunity with this brief – an opportunity to support Cuban trafficking victims and an opportunity to advance our extraordinary American leadership in combatting all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery. It is a major disappointment, and I urge the President and the Secretary of State to redouble efforts to pressure Cuba to end this medical trafficking program and the many other abuses it perpetrates against the Cuban people.”
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