By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal
Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.
Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health Organization. The money is supposed to go to Cuban workers’ salaries. But neither the WHO nor any host country pays Cuban workers directly. Instead the funds are credited to the account of the dictatorship, which by all accounts keeps the lion’s share of the payment and gives the worker a stipend to live on with a promise of a bit more upon return to Cuba.
It’s the perfect crime: By shipping its subjects abroad to help poor people, the regime earns the image of a selfless contributor to the global community even while it exploits workers and gets rich off their backs. According to DW, Germany’s international broadcaster, Havana earns some $7.6 billion annually from its export of health-care workers.
This is big business, which if it weren’t being carried out by gangster Marxists would surely offend journalists. Instead they lap it up. In an Oct. 24 interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour lighted up when she talked about Cuba’s health-care workers in Africa. “Cuba clearly has something to teach the world in its rapid response, doesn’t it,” Ms. Amanpour gushed. Mr. Kim agreed, calling it “a wonderful gesture.”
What the Cuban workers in the line of the Ebola fire are being paid remains a state secret. But human trafficking is not new for Havana nor is it limited to the medical profession. In October 2008 a federal judge in Miami ruled in favor of three Cuban workers who claimed they, along with some 100 others, had been sent by the regime to Curaçao to work off Cuban debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. The plaintiffs described horrific working conditions for which they were paid three cents an hour.
Feature continues here: Medical Slave Trade