NEW YORK (August 22, 2022) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has published a new report addressing Cuba’s state-sponsored human trafficking scheme, run through a decades-long program of international medical missions. Since the 1960s, the Cuban regime has sent healthcare personnel to more than 150 countries in what has often been referred to as “medical diplomacy” or “humanitarian aid.”
The widely–lauded program, however, runs on the exploitation of healthcare professionals, and serves as a major tool of international propaganda and an important source of revenue for Cuba’s repressive Communist regime. HRF’s analysis shows that the Cuban government has imposed coercive and retaliatory practices on healthcare professionals to avoid desertion, enforced in ways that violate international law protecting victims of human trafficking.
Cuba’s human trafficking scheme has also violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of Cuban doctors for more than 60 years: the right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of movement.
HRF’s new report lays out the current international standards that require states to protect the rights of human trafficking victims and to incorporate a human rights approach when developing trafficking solutions. It also details the history of Cuba’s medical missions, the main mechanisms used to exploit the labor of healthcare workers, and how these missions finance the Cuban regime. Lastly, the report outlines potential solutions and policy changes.