The Cuban government has been systematically exploiting its citizens, especially healthcare professionals, through forced labor programs. These laborers are sent abroad as part of the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigades and other initiatives. The regime reported foreign revenue of $11.7 billion in 2019 from this exploitative practice, which also served as the government’s largest source of revenue. This state-sponsored human trafficking affects thousands and violates basic human rights.
Let’s look at the situation for doctors trained in Cuba
The government arranges for their medical professionals to work abroad in other countries for a long period of time, ranging from several months to several years. The country receiving these medical professionals pays for their services, with all the money going back to the Cuban government.
The state keeps 85-90% of the income as government revenue.
During their time abroad, Cuban citizens are subject to constant oversight, surveillance, and strict curfews.
Those suspected of planning to flee and not return to Cuba can have their properties seized, earnings withheld, or loved ones thrown in jail. Escaping to another country is impossible, as their passports are taken away upon reaching their assignment destination.
More than 65 countries participated in supporting this slave labor system – all for the benefit of the Cuban regime.
FHRC has taken a multi-pronged approach to ensure that any Cuban citizen working under slave-like conditions are paid the full amount of a competitive salary:
Providing Educational Materials: FHRC informs government officials around the world about the human rights abuses occurring in Cuba, so they can enact effective policies to eliminate such practices.
Facilitating Connections: FHRC assists Cuban medical professionals who escape to the U.S., linking them with legal support to claim their rights. We also offer free consultation services for lawyers willing to defend the rights of exploited Cuban laborers, specifically aiding them in fighting for just compensation.
International Advocacy and Expert Testimonies: Through advocacy campaigns and collaboration with international partners, FHRC provides expert testimony to spotlight human rights abuses. Our work has influenced international policies, such as bringing an end to the Cuban component of Brazil’s Mais Médicos program, and our advocacy has been included as part of the official record of resolutions adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
Legal Milestones: FHRC has also supports landmark cases that hold international organizations like PAHO accountable for their role in facilitating the human trafficking of Cuban doctors.
FHRC’s efforts have already led to:
Income Loss to the Cuban Regime: Since FHRC began working on state sponsor of human trafficking, the regime reported income from foreign revenue dropped dramatically from 11.7 billion in 2019 to less than $4.3 billion in 2021, causing significant financial strain on the government and limiting their capacity for internal repression.
International Accountability: For the first time, an international organization (PAHO) is being held legally accountable, setting a precedent that can be used against other entities in the future. The Department of State has also recognized Cuba as one of eleven countries who participate in state-sponsor of human trafficking because of its doctors’ program.
Public Awareness: Increased awareness among U.S. policymakers and international allies about the dire human rights situation in Cuban medical brigades and other forms of slave-like treatment.
Direct Support: Over 8,000 Cuban professionals who were part of forced-labor programs have fled to the United States, allowing them the ability to restart their lives and claim their rights.
Scholarly Contribution & International Recognition: FHRC has published works that have become internationally recognized references on human trafficking, forced labor, and human rights abuses in authoritarian regimes.
FHRC not only highlights the dire situation in Cuba but also presents tangible solutions and showcases the far-reaching impact of their actions. This includes causing financial constraints on the Cuban government, advancing international accountability, raising public awareness, providing direct support to Cuban professionals, and contributing an influential body of academic work that serves as an international reference. Overall, FHRC’s initiatives have had a multi-dimensional and positive impact in combating state-sponsored human trafficking and exploitation.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Thanks to FHR Cuba’s supporters, the Cuban Government continues to see their labor income shrink as more and more professionals sent abroad are finding the courage to denounce their predicament and leave their oppressive situations behind.
With your assistance, we can continue to provide support to Cuban doctors and other professionals exploited as state slaves and raise awareness among policy makers to act decisively to stop this unacceptable situation.