BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
A new bill introduced by Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott on Wednesday would target countries that hire Cuban doctors through the “medical missions” controlled by the island’s government.
The Cut Profits to the Cuban Regime Act requires the State Department to publish the list of countries that contract the doctors through the Cuban government and to consider that as a factor in their ranking in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report.
Scott, who led the effort along with Cuban-American Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the Cuban government was participating “in the human trafficking of doctors” and that any country that requests medical assistance from Cuba is aiding such efforts.
Rubio also called the missions “a form of modern-day human trafficking.”
The Cuban government has almost 30,000 healthcare workers contracted in more than 50 countries. And senators said the government was trying to profit from the pandemic too, as around 2,500 doctors and nurses have been sent to more than 20 nations to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Cuban government has contested such accusations and said the missions are examples of cooperation and solidarity. And several governments have praised Cuba for sending medical workers.
But doctors who have abandoned the medical brigades have said the island’s government gave them only a small fraction of the salaries paid by the host countries, and that Cuban officials seized their documents to restrict their movements, among other allegations.
According to the Senate proposal, countries that pay the doctors directly, ensure that no one confiscates their passports or wages, and allow them to bring their family members with them, will not be affected in the State Department’s evaluation. Continue reading