Prisoners Defenders Press Release, September 22, 2020:
PRESENTATION OF THE COMPLAINT “622 CUBAN DOCTORS VS. CUBAN GOVERNMENT“:
- Prisoners Defenders presented today in Madrid the documents that have been submitted to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court that demonstrate the pattern of slavery of the so-called “internationalist missions” of Cuba.
- These documents were presented on August 24th of this year, as an extension of the complaint that already achieved that the United Nations, on November 6th 2019, issued a harsh Letter of Accusation to Cuba for slavery and forced labour by the Mandates of the Rapporteurs on Slavery and Forced Labour in the High Commission of the United Nations (AL CUB 6/2019).
- Among the documents submitted are detailed studies of the legislation that subjects Cuban workers abroad to flagrant human rights violations perpetrated by the State, who are prevented by the Cuban government from carrying passports and academic qualifications. Likewise, there were Conventions whose clauses make them null and void, such as the one signed with Guatemala that prevents any Cuban doctor who has disengaged from any Cuban mission, during or after the validity of the Cuba-Guatemala agreement, from working in Guatemalan territory, or contracts that impose unexplainable conditions that restrict the economic, personal, social, intimate, and even marital life of workers on mission. After the mission, workers who no longer wish to be linked to such missions are prohibited from returning to Cuba for at least 8 years, separating minor children from their parents, marriages and entire families. Between 5 and 10 thousand Cuban parents are forcibly separated from their sons and daugthers, prevented from even seeing each other, which has already happened to more than 40 thousand families in Cuba.
- The pattern of repression defines a crime against humanity as slavery, persecution and other inhumane acts.
- The 622 testimonies submitted and the tabulation of responses to a declaration form with more than 100 variables allow Prisoners Defenders to show the pattern of human rights violations in more than 29 countries.
- The list of countries analysed by these missions includes, among others, Guatemala, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Belize, East Timor, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Guyana, Jamaica, Algeria, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Mozambique and Ghana, as well as countries where the missions were repudiated precisely because of the problems arising from the slavery found and its consequences, such as Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia.
- More than 50,000 professionals each year suffer from these conditions, for which the government confiscates 85% of their salaries abroad, with annual profits of $8.5 billion
- The participation of European countries in the financing of this pattern of slavery, such as Luxembourg, Portugal and Norway, was described in detail.
Personalities from the world of moderate and democratic politics from the left, the centre and Christian Democrats from Europe and Latin America met at the press conference and supported the need for action.
Among them, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Dita Charanzová, MEPs Javier Nart and Leopoldo López Gil.
Also, the national parliamentarians of Spain, Carlos Rojas, and Argentina, Graciela Ocaña (former minister of health of Argentina under the presidency of Cristina Fernández) and Lucila Lehmann.
International legal experts such as Blas Jesús Imbroda, member of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers and Dean of the Melilla Bar Association, also spoke. Also present was Edel González Jiménez, President until 2018 of the Provincial Judicial Power of Villa Clara, in the Republic of Cuba, who made an emotional and moderate appeal to his former colleagues of the State of Cuba to beg for stopping this procedure with the Cuban professionals on mission.
From the hands of its Managing Director, the institution Prodie Santé, present on the 5 continents, presented a project that has more than 2000 doctors who have suffered this persecution and with whom it has created the first Free International Medical Brigade, a project based on integration, solidarity and health.
Dita Charanzová, Vice-President of the European Parliament, from the Renew Europe group, told the media that
“Disregarding the human rights situation cannot be the price to pay for health care in Cuba. Governments receiving aid from Cuba must be firm and demand change. And the EU must face up to the facts. The existence of medical missions under the current model – a model of slavery, as highlighted by the denunciation of Prisoners Defenders – is a clear violation of the Agreement with the European Union.
In the Agreement between the European Union and Cuba, an article establishes in cases of special urgency in the face of relevant violations of the Agreement, that it is feasible to call an emergency meeting between the parties within 15 days. I will continue to insist that this emergency meeting be convened”.
Javier Nart, MEP from the Renew Europe Group, stated that:
“Cuban medical missions have nothing to do with solidarity and much to do with income and manipulation in favour of the regime.
A solidarity mission is one that is carried out in a disinterested manner and, of course, with absolute respect for the human and labour rights of the people involved.
When we are talking about medical personnel being deprived of between 70% and 90% for the benefit of the Cuban regime, when it is determined that their passports are being taken away and they have no possibility of communicating with the civilian population beyond what the Cuban authorities allow, when it is determined that if the doctors and nurses leave the mission without returning to Cuba they can face between 3 and 8 years in prison, we are dealing with a violation of human rights.
This is determined by Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and other organisations that confirm the violation of labour rights. Yes to solidarity, but no to exploitation and violation of human rights”.
Leopoldo López Gil, MEP from the Popular Group, said:
“The Cuban regime provides political intelligence and logistical support to non-democratic countries in the region. One way of carrying out this task is through the missions of Cuban doctors to these countries, which this report demonstrates.
At present we can say that 11 missions of Cuban doctors are still active in Venezuela.
In addition, it is known that in March 2020 Cuba sent 130 collaborators to Venezuela to support the fight against the pandemic.
According to the testimonies of Cuban doctors in Venezuela, the missions of Cuban doctors in this country are characterised by the labour exploitation to which the doctors are subjected, WITHOUT being paid holidays, WITH derisory salaries and overcrowding in poor housing. In addition, Cuban medical personnel are obliged to hold constant political meetings and carry out acts of repudiation against colleagues who leave the mission or commit infractions.
Cuba’s influence on the Latin American continent through tools such as these medical missions is a great destabiliser, not only for upcoming electoral processes, but also for overturning the constitutional orders of poorly established democracies”.
Carlos Rojas, national deputy in Spain for the People’s Party, highlighted:
“That all this comes to light is a triumph of freedom, which must continue to gain space in Cuba until democracy is achieved in our brother country. When a dictatorship feels uncomfortable, it is that freedom is emerging. “
Gilles Campedel, CEO of Prodie Santé, an institution specialized in the management and deployment of thousands of doctors around the world, with more than 20 years of experience, said
“Without taking a political position and with a lower cost scheme than the Cuban missions, we announce the creation of the first International Brigade of Free Doctors with more than 2,000 health professionals forcibly expatriated from Cuba”.
María Lucila Lehmann, National Deputy of Argentina for the Civic Collation, stressed that:
“What is being denounced today must make the whole world aware of the violation of human dignity that the missions of Cuban doctors represent.
No country in the free world can be an accomplice to slave labour. In my country, Argentina, at the beginning of the pandemic, they have already tried to carry out this agreement and the missions of Cuban doctors, and although it seems that we have managed to stop it, we are still attentive to the fact that they can try again.
It is a matter of respecting human dignity, of defending, here and anywhere in the world, the most basic and fundamental values that a human being can have: life, freedom and property.
Cuba cannot be seated in the International Labour Organization, nor should the ILO allow slave labour in Cuba. The governments that admit the Cuban Medical Missions are also complicit in the violation of workers’ human rights.”
Blas Jesús Imbroda Ortiz, criminal lawyer, President of the Sub-commission for Immigration and International Protection of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers and Dean of the Bar Association of Melilla, highlighted that
“To maintain the dictatorial regime, they relentlessly apply persecution and terror among the population. This is why the government is persecuting anyone who might disagree with it by carrying out a terrible and inhuman social control. Cuba is the largest producer and exporter of crimes against humanity. Hence the tragedy that Venezuela is experiencing with the tyranny directed and advised by the Cuban regime, and also the tragedy of Nicaragua. Cuban medical missions around the world are an exponent of 21st century slavery, one of the unique acts that define the crime against humanity. They deprive people of their dignity in order to turn them into slaves. The International Criminal Court must act. ”
Javier Larrondo, president of Prisoners Defenders, said:
“This denunciation of slavery was already initiated by the Portuguese Medical Association and the British Medical Journal in 2010, by the United Nations in its Universal Periodic Review of Cuba in 2018, by Prisoners Defenders in November 2018, and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights this last November.
We must eradicate slavery in these missions, and demand that Cuba allow 40,000 people, who were banned from re-entering Cuba, just because they disengage from missions, for obvious causes, enter to visit the island and then leave, on a regular basis, as tourists who will also generate income on the island, contributing to the common sustenance. The family reunification of these children and parents, who have not been seen since the first ones were very young, is imperative. It is necessary to eliminate the slavish capitalism exercised by a regime that has been dominated by State Security since the early 60’s and which has no resemblance or any shared principles with the European social democracy”.
At the press conference, complaints and summaries of complaints to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations were presented in 4 languages: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese (Brazilian).
ABOUT PRISONERS DEFENDERS
Prisoners Defenders is an independent group of analysis, study and legal action, which has the collaboration of multiple opposition groups and families, professionals and officials in order to gather information and promote human rights in Cuba.
Cuban Prisoners Defenders is part of the Prisoners Defenders International Network, a legally registered Association based in Madrid, Spain, whose focus of action is the promotion and defense of human rights and democratic values, and whose Internet address is www.prisonersdefenders.org.
The works of Cuban Prisoners Defenders are adopted by numerous institutions and are sent, among others, to the United Nations Organization, Organization of American States, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights
Watch, Civil Rights Defenders. Freedom House, European Parliament, United States Congress and Senate FNCA, ASIC, UNPACU,
Government of Spain, Spanish Transition Foundation, International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights, FANTU, Party for Democracy Pedro Luis Boitel, College of Pedagogues Independent of Cuba and the Citizen Movement Reflection and Reconciliation, among many other institutions and organizations of equal relevance.
REQUEST FOR REPORTS: Entities wishing to receive the work of Cuban Prisoners Defenders (list of political prisoners and of conscience, legal studies of political prisoners, legal studies on Cuba, studies on repression and prisons in Cuba, etc) please contact Cuban Prisoners Defenders at email@example.com or by whatsapp or phone at +34 647564741. Disambiguation: Prisoners Defenders generates its contents and reports in Spanish, and then translates them into other languages with the sole purpose of facilitating reading, but in case of any need for nuance or disambiguation, it will be the reports generated in Spanish that prevail and are official, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Our website is www.prisonersdefenders.org and our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CubanDefenders. Our Twitter, in addition, is @CubanDefenders.