The Trump administration continues to denigrate, obstruct and threaten this medical cooperation that has promoted international solidarity for over 55 years and has sent more than 3,700 doctors to 39 countries, including Italy, France and the United Kingdom. The attacks have a very worrying connotation in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although other US presidents have insisted on sabotaging this collaboration with programmes such as the Parole for Cuban Medical Professionals – which encouraged these personnel to resign from their service abroad – Donald Trump has escalated and diversified this course of action.
The centre of the insulting campaign is focused on questioning the quality of the Cuban collaborators’ professional training, to undermine trust in them and thus the established international agreements, while labelling cooperation programmes to be “forced labour”, “modern slavery” and “human trafficking”.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the media campaign is combined with pressure against the recipient states of health aid to relinquish this assistance.
As a result, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs points to the cessation of cooperation programmes in Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, which left millions of people without health services. In Brazil alone, more than 3,600 municipalities and 60 million Brazilians were affected from August 2013 to November 2018.
According to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in May 2019, while a conference was being orchestrated at the headquarters of the Organization of American States on the alleged crimes against humanity committed by the island in relation to medical cooperation, the Embassy of Washington in Ecuador demanded detailed information on the agreements with Cuba. Five months later, the Ecuadorian government terminated these services abruptly.
The coup d’état in Bolivia, in November of that year, exposed the US Embassy’s instigation and participation in hostile and even direct acts against Cuban aid workers in La Paz.
In addition to this, in June 2019, Cuba was added to the worst category of the Trafficking in Persons Report prepared by the US State Department, and visas were denied to Cuban officials in the sphere of this medical collaboration.
With the presidential elections in the US underway, Cuba becomes a campaign issue.
The State Department and its officials have not ceased in their attacks on Cuban medical cooperation, from their statements on social networks, at press conferences, published documents and through concrete actions.
In May it was learned that the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides resources to subversion programmes against the Cuban government, would allocate $2 million for projects directed against its medical brigades.
This amount would be added to the 3 million approved in August 2019.
In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened the Pan American Health Organization for its role in the More Doctors between Brazil and Cuba programme, and presented a bill to punish countries that contract Cuban medical services.
The regulation, whose purpose is to cut the amount of income that Cuba obtains in this way, considers the countries that maintain these ties to be “accomplices to human trafficking” and, therefore, they may be subject to sanctions.
That step was accompanied by the inclusion of Cuba, again, in the list of nations that do not do enough to fight human trafficking. However, Havana decries the fact this report is prepared in Washington by the State Department without the participation of qualified international organisations.
Cuban authorities have declared that the technicians and professionals who participate in these programmes do so “absolutely freely and voluntarily”, and that during that time they continue to receive their full salary in their country, in addition to a salary at their place of work. (PL)