By Maria Werlau in The Wall Street Journal:
Cuba's Cash-for-Doctors Program
Thousands of its health-care missionaries flee mistreatment.
For decades, Cuba has "exported" doctors, nurses and health technicians to earn diplomatic influence in poor countries and hard cash for its floundering economy. According to Cuba's official media, an estimated 38,544 Cuban health professionals were serving abroad in 2008, 17,697 of them doctors. (Cuba reports having 70,000 doctors in all.)
These "missionaries of the revolution" are well-received in host countries from Algeria to South Africa to Venezuela. Yet those who hail Cuba's generosity overlook the uglier aspects of Cuba's health diplomacy.
The regime stands accused of violating various international agreements such as the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and ILO Convention on the Protection of Wages because of the way these health-care providers are treated. In February, for example, seven Cuban doctors who formerly served in Venezuela and later defected filed a lawsuit in Florida federal court against Cuba, Venezuela and the Venezuelan state oil company for holding them in conditions akin to "modern slavery."
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