Jueves, 24 de Octubre de 2019
Última actualización: 10:47 CEST
Politics

The Popular Party Calls on the Spanish Government to Take a Stand Against the Exploitation of Cuban Doctors

Cuban doctors in Venezuela. (AP)
Representative Carlos Rojas García (DDC)

On Friday Spain's Popular Party (PP, currently in the opposition) presented  a resolution in the Spanish Congress harshly criticizing Havana's exploitation of doctors assigned to missions abroad, and urging Madrid to consider giving "political asylum" and "facilitating employment" in Spain for Cuban health professionals fleeing these abusive conditions, stating that these emigrants constitute a group that "requires humanitarian support, and is of the highest quality."

In its proposal, to which DIARIO DE CUBA had access, the PP calls on the Government to demand from Havana an "immediate explanation" of the pressure and restricted freedom to which it subjects its medical personnel in other countries, which the Spanish opposition party considers tantamount to "human trafficking and modern slavery."

It also appeals to the government of socialist Pedro Sánchez to issue a "a general condemnation" of analogous situations "in any country around the world" and "establish, in advance, Spain's position in this regard."

The resolution, an initiative spearheaded by the spokesperson of the Popular Parliamentary Group in the Congress, Dolors Montserrat Montserrat, and representative Carlos Rojas García, mirrors one presented last January 10 by Senators Bob Menéndez (Democrat) and Marco Rubio (Republican) in the United States Senate.

That bipartisan resolution, which cited an investigation by DIARIO DE CUBA on abuses against Cuban doctors, called on the Trump Administration to reopen the asylum program for Cuban health professionals escaping from missions abroad (closed by the  Obama Administration), and described the business that Havana does by selling these workers' services as "human trafficking".

In the resolution Spain’s PP highlights that "Cuban doctors are known in many countries of the world for their extraordinary expertise, sense of vocation, and hard work in extreme situations."

It adds that they have been "used as an essential tool of Cuban diplomacy, to reach out to other countries and strengthen the limited international relations that the island had," while explaining that this "supposed solidarity (...) was actually a cover for a revenue source that subjected Cuban professionals to inhumane situations."

The sale of professional services, mainly medical, has been a key source of revenue for the Cuban Government, which kept at least 70% of the money paid by the countries to which the doctors were sent.

The contracts were arranged through the opaque Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos (CSMSA).

In the resolution the PP mentions the link established by the CSMSA with entities such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), an intermediary in the pact between Havana and Brasilia for the Más Médicos program, under which about 20,000 Cuban professionals were sent to Cuba.

Under the Más Medicos system the PAHO took a 5% cut on the amount that Brazil paid Cuban health workers in the former country.

Unacceptable conditions

In its resolution the PP also points to Ministerial Resolution No. 168 of 2010, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba, which establishes the "Disciplinary Regulation" for civilian workers sent to other countries.

Said regulation, the PP contends, contains "unacceptable conditions for any person at their workplace," these including Cuban doctors’ obligation to return to the island "at the end of their mission, on the date and by the means of transportation indicated by the entity that sent them."

In this regard it points out that Article 35 of the Cuban Criminal Code provides for prison sentences of 3 to 8 years for any "official or employee charged with completing a mission in a foreign country, who abandons it, or, having completed it, is called upon to return, and refuses to do, expressly or tacitly."

This same regulation, the PP says, forces Cuban health workers to report their intention to marry in the nation where they provide services, and to request authorization to travel to another area of that country, or even to Cuba.

The Cuban Government's rules even prohibit health professionals from having relationships with citizens of the country where they are sent, as the regime considers them a threat to their interests. And, it goes without saying, they are not permitted to have any relationships with Cubans who have escaped during missions abroad.

The PP complains that "all doctors in the country know that they will be barred from returning to Cuba, for 8 years, if they fail to return after the mission."

Resolution No. 168 of 2010, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, the Spanish party observes, "violates, in a flagrant manner, the most basic trade union principles and all internationally accepted agreements regarding labor and union conditions for workers." It calls upon the Spanish Government to demand that Havana repeal it and amend Article 135 of the Criminal Code.

In its resolution the PP also asks the Spanish government to urge Cuba to lift the restrictions and entry conditions affecting Cuban health professionals without criminal records who wish to return to their country.

It argues: "many of them live and have rights in Spain, as citizens, such that they must be defended by the Spanish State with national and international law."

The PP points to cases of professionals with young children in Cuba, "whose rights are protected by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, " which Havana has signed and ratified, but violates by preventing children from seeing their parents.