US Accuses Venezuela, Cuba of Human Trafficking

US Accuses Venezuela, Cuba of Human Trafficking

By Voice of America (VOA)
August 06, 2020

On June 25, the United States accused the Nicolás Maduro regime and the Cuban government of participating in human trafficking, according to a report from the U.S. Department of State.

Cuba, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press briefing, forces about 50,000 doctors to remain under conditions of exploitation, through the Medical Cooperation Unit program.

“They are the regime’s number one source of income,” the diplomat said, stressing that Cuban doctors are present in more than 60 countries.

According to the report, 75 percent of the Cuban workforce that travels abroad consists of medical professionals, and the Cuban government collects $6 to 8 billion annually for their work.

Workers “only get part of their salary,” between 5 and 25 percent, and the funds are held in Cuban bank accounts that are closed if the person leaves the medical missions program, the report said.

The annual report classifies countries in three categories, the third being the lowest, based on the efforts that governments make to fight human trafficking. Countries that fall in this category can only receive U.S. humanitarian assistance.

Besides Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were the other two countries in the region receiving the lowest rating.

Concerning Venezuela, the report states that officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime collaborate with illegal armed groups, such as dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish) and the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), to recruit children to serve as combatants, “informants, and sex slaves.”

The crisis in the country, which has driven almost 4 million Venezuelans to leave, makes migrants particularly susceptible to trafficking rings, the U.S. Department of State said.

“Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Venezuela, and traffickers exploit Venezuelan victims abroad,” the report said.

The U.S. Secretary of State said that “there are 25 million adults and children” subject to labor and sex trafficking worldwide.