New Trafficking in Persons Report

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The U.S. State Department has just released its 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, which lists Cuba as one of 17 nations in the lowest possible category, Tier 3. According to the report:

Cuba is principally a source of women and children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Some Cuban children are reportedly pushed into prostitution by their families, exchanging sex for money, food, or gifts. Cuban nationals voluntarily migrate illegally to the United States, and there have been reports that some are subjected to forced labor or forced prostitution by their smugglers. The full scope of trafficking within Cuba is difficult to gauge due to the closed nature of the government and sparse nongovernmental or independent reporting. State-run hotel workers, travel employees, cab drivers, and police steer some tourists to women and children in prostitution – including trafficking victims – though this appears to be on the decline.

The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so. It is difficult to assess the true extent of trafficking in Cuba. Observation and independent reports suggest that the Cuban government is taking steps to address the problem of child sex tourism, though this information cannot be verified. The government will not release information about anti-trafficking activities it may have engaged in during the past year, viewing U.S. attempts to engage officials on trafficking issues as politically motivated.

Recommendations for Cuba: Acknowledge that child sex trafficking in Cuba is a problem; provide greater legal protections and assistance for victims; develop procedures to identify possible trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement; and take greater steps to prevent the trafficking of children in prostitution.