Police Raid Odebrecht's Offices Amid Corruption Probe

Saturday, November 15, 2014
What else can be said about the Brazilian engineering company, Odebrecht?

It partners with the world's most vile dictators, i.e. Castro and Gaddafi.

It engages in human trafficking and slave labor practices in Africa.

It allowed (or turned a blind-eye to) the smuggling of illegal arms through the Port it was building -- in conjunction with Cuba's military -- in Mariel.

It's notorious for cost-overruns in its U.S. projects.

It's currently involved in a multi-billion dollar corruption probe in Brazil.

And yet, some Miami-Dade County politicians and lobbyists want to continue irresponsibly handing it our community's taxpayer dollars.

Go figure.

From Reuters:

Petrobras ex-director arrested, shares sink amid graft scandal

Brazilian police arrested a former Petrobras executive on Friday and the state-run oil giant's shares sank 5 percent after it was forced by a widening corruption scandal to delay the release of its financial results.

Former engineering director Renato Duque was the second senior Petrobras executive arrested in the investigation into a money laundering and bribery scheme that allegedly skimmed billions of dollars off contracts and into the pockets of politicians.

Police also raided the offices of leading construction and engineering firms, including Odebrecht and Mendes Junior. There, they seized potentially incriminating documents and arrested 18 people suspected of involvement in the graft scheme.

Quote of the Day: Protecting Kim's Regime

[Cuba is] trying very hard to have the resolution be gutted of its most powerful provisions. Any removal of those paragraphs is protecting, not the people of North Korea... but protecting the Kim regime.
-- Roberta Cohen, co-chair of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, on the Castro regime's diplomatic effort to water-down the U.N. resolution on human rights in North Korea, PRI's The World, 11/14/14

Easing Sanctions = Losing Leverage

Friday, November 14, 2014
A favorite talking point of Cuba "experts" is that easing sanctions and normalizing relations with the Castro regime would somehow increase the U.S.'s leverage.

As President Obama has learned (whether he admits it or not) in Burma -- it's quite the contrary.

From Foreign Policy:

While acknowledging democratic reforms have stalled and that the country's human rights record has in some respects worsened, President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he remains hopeful about Myanmar's future.

But Obama may have little leverage in pressing Thein Sein to continue the country's transition toward democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic opposition leader, has questioned the U.S. government's rush to embrace the apparently reformist government. And human rights groups say the suspension of economic sanctions two years ago undermined Washington's ability to push for further reforms.

Three More Cuban Political Prisoners Sentenced

From EFE:

Cuban dissident group denounces public disorder sentences for 3 activists

The Cuban Patriotic Union, or UNPACU, opposition group on Thursday told EFE that three of its members were sentenced to between two and four years in prison for public disorder.

Yoelkis Rosabal, Ricardo Pelier and Ernesto Darian Dufo were sentenced to two, three and four years behind bars, respectively, according to the copy of the sentences to which the wife of one of the activists gained access on Thursday, the leader of the organization, Jose Daniel Ferrer, said.

The trio has been imprisoned since May in the eastern province of Guantanamo where they were brought to trial in late October and verbally sentenced on Wednesday.

Ferrer said that the wives of the prisoners want to appeal the sentence, which they must do within 10 days.

The three men have been held in the prison since May 15 after they were arrested while staging what UNPACU said was a "peaceful" protest in the town of Caimanera over the arrest there days earlier of their companion Yohannes Arce, who was sentenced to three years in prison in September.

Must-Read: With No Embargo, What Would Castro Do?

By Professor Jose Azel in PanAm Post:

With No Embargo, What Would Castro Do?

The Blindspot of Sympathizers and Free-Trade Dogmatists

The recent editorials arguing for or against the continuation of the US embargo and travel ban towards Cuba have one feature in common; unlike the evangelical self-inquiry of “What would Jesus do?” the writers fail to ask the WWCD question. That is, what would Raúl Castro do if the United States were to unilaterally and unconditionally end economic sanctions?

This is a peculiar omission, since the formulation of US foreign policy is often compared to a chess game in which every prospective move is analyzed and weighted with an eye to what the adversary’s counter move would be. As with a conditional proposition in logic, a unilateral policy move by the United States implies reciprocity by Cuba in the “if … then…” array of possibilities.

And yet, advocates of a unilateral-unconditional ending of economic sanctions simplistically posit that the policy has failed and hence it must be changed, without advancing their vision of how the Castro government would respond to such a US initiative. This is an irresponsible approach to the formulation of US foreign policy.

Let me thus advance a WWCD scenario that, although necessarily speculative as these crystal ball exercises are, is perfectly consistent with the statements and actions of the Castro government.

First the obvious: Cuban officials would move to capitalize economically in every possible way, but most importantly by welcoming US tourists as the most immediate source of foreign exchange.

A corollary is that the Cuban government may also move to restrict travel by Cuban-Americans. The Castro logic is simple: US tourists do not speak Spanish, are not subversive, will have limited contacts with Cubans, and will stay in isolated resorts that are off limits to the average Cuban and controlled by Cuba’s security apparatus. Cuban-Americans, on the other hand, symbolize a more destabilizing and less profitable group, given their propensity to stay with family and friends and their ability to communicate in Spanish their experiences in a free land.

Ironically, an end to the travel ban on the merits of US tourists as communicators of democratic values would enrich the Cuban military.

Ironically, an end to the travel ban on the merits of US tourists as communicators of democratic values would enrich the Cuban military — who control the tourism industry. Under this scenario, they would likely threaten travel by Cuban-Americans who offer more accessible evidence of the virtues of democracy and free markets.

My WWCD scenario foresees another Castro move that would be very awkward for the United States. For years, the Cuban government has carried out a very successful campaign in the United Nations and other international platforms to make a case for economic damages to Cuba caused by the US embargo.

In Cuba’s view, this policy by the United States has caused over US$116 billion in damages to the Cuban economy. The damages are detailed in yearly reports that Cuba submits to the United Nations. In the latest UN vote, 188 nations voted to end the embargo and only one nation voted with the United States.

Ending economic sanctions unconditionally … would be exhibited by Cuba to the international community as an admission of culpability by the United States.

Ending economic sanctions unconditionally would strengthen Cuba’s juridical case and would be exhibited by Cuba to the international community as an admission of culpability by the United States. Indeed, Cuba may seek reparations for damages in forums such as the International Court of Justice.

This “if … then…” scenario is not as far fetched as it may seem. The doctrine of state immunity, which protects a state from being sued, allows exceptions for disputes arising from commercial transactions. Moreover, scholars in this field have argued that states should not have immunity in cases relating to human-rights abuses.

Correspondingly, and astutely, the Cuban government has diligently built its case against the US embargo as a violation of human rights, contending it is a policy “deliberately designed to provoke hunger, illnesses and desperation in the Cuban population.” Opponents of the embargo naively reinforce Cuba’s case by always noting in their language that the embargo “only hurts the Cuban people.”

Some provisions of the embargo extend the territorial jurisdiction of the United States in a way shunned by most nations. The Cuban government will rejoice at the opportunity to place the United States “on trial” in international stages populated by anti-Americanism.

This is not to suggest that Cuba’s case would prevail and be awarded damages, but it is the sort of scenario that makes advocacy for a non-negotiated ending of economic sanctions such an irresponsible argument. Supporters of terminating the embargo unconditionally must be confused; the Castros are not the type to “turn the other cheek.”

Oregon Company Fined for Cuba Sanctions Violations

From the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

ESCO Corporation Settles Potential Civil Liability for Apparent Violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations

ESCO Corporation (ESCO) of Portland, Oregon has agreed to pay $2,057,540 to settle potential civil liability for apparent violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (the CACR). ESCO appears to have violated §§ 515.201 and 515.204 of the CACR when its subsidiary purchased nickel briquettes made or derived from Cuban-origin nickel between on or about November 7, 2007, and on or about June 11, 2011.

OFAC determined that ESCO voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case. The total transaction value for the apparent violations was $6,188,149, and the base penalty amount for the apparent violations was $3,048,208.

The settlement amount reflects OFAC’s consideration of the following facts and circumstances, pursuant to the General Factors under OFAC’s Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A.

OFAC considered the following to be aggravating factors: ESCO acted with reckless disregard for Cuba sanctions program by failing to identify, despite the presence of contemporaneous “red flags” in the public domain, that the nickel briquettes were made or derived from Cuban-origin nickel; ESCO caused significant harm to the Cuba sanctions program and its policy objectives by conducting large-volume and high-value transactions in products made or derived from Cuban-origin nickel, which were ultimately sourced from Specially Designated Nationals; and ESCO is a commercially sophisticated company with international

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors: ESCO has not received a penalty notice or Finding of Violation from OFAC in the five years preceding the date of the first transaction giving rise to the apparent violations; ESCO has enhanced its OFAC compliance plan and conducted a thorough look-back; and ESCO cooperated with OFAC’s investigation, including by executing and extending a statute of limitations tolling agreement.

Why Cuba is More Recalcitrant Than North Korea

Thursday, November 13, 2014
This week, the North Korean regime released its two remaining American hostages, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller.

Pursuant to the release, U.S. officials stressed three important points:

1. There was no "quid pro quo" for the release of the hostages;

2. North Korea will not be rewarded with diplomatic or sanctions relief until it meets commitments on denuclearization and human rights; and

3. A security official (Admiral James Clapper) was specifically sent to pick up the hostages -- rather than a State Department official -- in order not to give the impression of a diplomatic entreaty.

Meanwhile, the Cuban dictatorship remains intent on keeping its American hostage, Alan Gross, unless there's a "quid pro quo" exchange for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States.

This ransom demand was -- once again -- reiterated to U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Tom Udall (D-NM), who traveled to Havana this past weekend for one of their periodic meetings with Castro regime officials.

So why is Cuba's regime more recalcitrant than North Korea's?

Mostly because the North Korean regime doesn't have a U.S.-based lobbying campaign and public relations operation akin to Cuba's.

North Korea doesn't have The New York Times Editorial Board legitimizing its ransom demands; it doesn't have fringe academics, religious groups and entertainers holding "Free the Five" rallies; it doesn't have "policy groups" and "think-tanks" lobbying the White House and the State Department; it doesn't have former U.S. officials like Fulton Armstrong feeding the media untruths and hyperbole; and it doesn't have U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) giving "winks-and-nods" in favor.

These highly irresponsible actors have created unrealistic expectations in Havana, which have further entrenched Castro's regime.

And, in the process, have done a tremendous disservice to Alan Gross.

Cuba Sugar-Coats Arms (and Human Rights) for North Korea

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
From Reuters:

Stung by sanctions scandal, Cuba defends North Korea at U.N.

Cuba, which was involved in a violation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea last year, has come to the aid of Pyongyang to defend it against a Western-led push to bring its alleged human rights abuses to The Hague, envoys said on Wednesday.

A European-Japanese draft resolution submitted to a U.N. General Assembly committee that covers human rights recommends the referral of North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. That resolution is tentatively scheduled to go to a vote on Nov. 18.

North Korea has lobbied at the United Nations for countries to oppose the resolution, dismissing it as part of a U.S.-led political plot to overthrow the country's leadership using falsified human rights criticism based on a U.N. inquiry report that alleged systematic torture, starvation and killings.

Cuba, which like North Korea is a member of the 120-country bloc of non-aligned states, has circulated to all 193 United Nations members an amendment to the draft resolution that calls for deletion of the language recommending that the Security Council consider referring Pyongyang to the ICC.

Havana proposes language that would replace ICC issue, according to a draft of the amendment obtained by Reuters: "Decides to adopt a new cooperative approach for the consideration of the human rights in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea."

Western diplomats said that it was likely both the EU-Japanese draft resolution and Cuban amendment will go to a vote next week, and the amendment has a chance of succeeding.

Cuba's military cooperation with North Korea raised eyebrows last year when the Chong Chon Gang ship was seized in Panama and found to be carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, hidden under thousands of tonnes of Cuban sugar.

After the weapons were discovered, Cuba said it was sending "obsolete" Soviet-era weapons to be repaired in North Korea and then returned to Cuba. The Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee later blacklisted the ship's operator, Ocean Maritime Management, for violating the U.N. arms embargo.

Western diplomats said it was ironic that Cuba had taken up Pyongyang's defense at the United Nations.

"First the Cubans get caught red-handed violating Security Council sanctions on North Korea, and now they are going to try to cover for them in the Third Committee to water down the resolution on their human rights abuses," a U.N. diplomat said.

"But unlike the weapons stored in the well of the Chong Chon Gang, you can't sugar coat the atrocious human rights conditions in the DPRK (North Korea)," he added.

Tweet of the Day: Castro Love-Fest With The New York Times

By CNN's Havana correspondent, Patrick Oppmann:

Obama Should Not Stifle Real Reforms (Again)

A favorite argument of Castro's lobbyists and propagandists is that the U.S. should normalize relations and ease sanctions towards Cuba in order to encourage Raul's "reforms."

This misses the glaring fact that Castro's regime only responds when it's economically pressed. For example, "self-employment" -- albeit a half-measure -- was a temporary reaction to loss of Soviet subsidies, and with the remnants of the Chavez regime in Venezuela now imploding, Cuba will likely continue allowing it.

However, as we've posted before, once the Cuban economy stabilizes or begins to "bounce back," the Castro government reverses itself to freeze or revoke any "reforms."

Lift U.S. sanctions and Cuba's government will solely focus on strengthening its state conglomerates and the repression required to suppress change.

Of course, Castro's lobbyists and propagandists know that once sanctions are prematurely lifted, there's (usually) no going back.

President Obama is seeing this play out first-hand in Burma, where he was poorly advised by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to prematurely normalize relations and ease sanctions.

He shouldn't make the same mistake with Cuba.

Read the following Politico story very carefully:

Barack Obama returns to Myanmar amid fading reform hopes

Critics say the president has failed to hold the country's leaders to their promises.

America’s opening to Myanmar was supposed to be one of the crown jewels in Clinton’s [Obama's] legacy, but instead of polishing that record at a time when the presumed 2016 presidential candidate is already under attack from Republicans for having a thin diplomatic résumé, the visit is showcasing the array of setbacks that policy has suffered since it was undertaken in 2009.

Critics say the reform drive — one of the foreign initiatives most closely identified with Clinton, who pushed the White House to embrace a friendlier policy as the country’s military junta eased its grip — has stalled out. Dissident Aung San Suu Kyi remains blocked from running for president, violence continues against ethnic minorities and the regime has drafted a plan to deny citizenship to many who have long lived within its borders [...]

It was only two years ago that Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the once-reclusive nation, bestowing a huge honor on the generals who still hold power there and gambling that the country’s momentum toward reform would be sustained. There’s an acknowledgment among officials that the timing of the return visit is awkward, given that it will be a second high-level touch-down for a president who has graced few countries more than once, but the White House hopes to use the visit to look for opportunities to right Myanmar’s course.

Skeptics warned at the time that the presidential visit and the relaxation of most U.S. sanctions were mistakes because they gave Myanmar’s military leaders too much of a reward for the changes they’d made and diminished U.S. leverage going forward.

“Two years after that trip, there have not been a lot of big changes. There has been a lot of backsliding and a lot of inertia,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch. “Once the bulk of the financial sanctions were lifted, right after that, reforms began to stall, which is why we urged them not to do it in one go.”

After that push in 2012, he said, “There was very little motivation for [the generals] to continue to move.”
One former senior administration official recalled that “there were plenty of arguments about how and when to lift a set of sanctions” to encourage the government’s opening.

Now, despite the easing of financial and investment sanctions and the president’s and secretary of state’s visits, he acknowledged that “some of those things have actually gotten worse in the last year,” with officials in Myanmar not allowing a “real opening of the political process” and having done a “horrendous job in their treatment of the Rohingya minority.”

How Normalization Relegates Democracy and Human Rights

Last month, we wrote a post entitled, "How to Relegate Human Rights and Democracy in U.S.-Cuba Policy."

In it, we argued:

"If relations with Cuba were normalized, the United States might occasionally raise the issue of human rights and democracy rhetorically -- but in practice it would be relegated to the bottom of the agenda.

The United States' agenda towards Cuba would become subject to the priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau, the National Foreign Trade Council, every major agribusiness and oil conglomerate, etc.

None of whom care one bit about the human rights of the Cuban people -- nor of the Iranian people, Syrian people, Burmese people, et al.

This is not a theory. It is a fact."

Now, here's what The Economist had to say ahead of President Obama's trip to Asia this week:

"Democracy, human rights and all that take a back seat in America’s Asia policy

American leaders used to raise the issues of human rights and democracy in Asia at almost every opportunity, especially where China was concerned, but also in Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam and elsewhere. That they no longer hector so loudly is welcome to many governments. But it seems to jar with American professions of continued leadership."

Quote of the Day: Economic Reforms Do Not Lead to Political Reforms

It used to be that everyone thought ‘Oh, we’ll get in there, get some capitalism going, and China will flip eventually.’ Well that hasn’t happened. Not only has it not happened, but China has demonstrably declared that it isn’t their intention or goal.
-- Orville Schell, Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, "Beijing Aims to Blunt Western Influence in China", The Wall Street Journal, 11/11/14

The New York Times' Cuban Adventures in Misinformation

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
This week, Andrew Rosenthal, The New York Times' Editorial Page Editor, was asked about the newspaper's obsessive string of Cuba editorials.

He admitted that their goal was to "influence American policymakers as they continue contemplating policies towards Cuba."

We appreciate his honesty.  So let's call a spade-a-spade: It's a lobbying campaign.

Yesterday, the NYT released its fifth editorial -- in as many weeks -- on Cuba policy.  It's entitled, "In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change," aimed at the U.S.'s democracy programs.

All five iterations of this NYT lobbying campaign share a common theme: 

Market Raul as a "reformer" (or as deceased Cuban democracy leader, Oswaldo Paya, would say "fraudulent change"); whitewash the Castro regime's crimes and abuses; ignore Cuba's courageous democracy movement, which overwhelmingly supports current U.S. policy; and portray the United States as the bad guys.

Moreover, current events have highlighted the indiscipline and irresponsibility of this lobbying campaign.

For example, pursuant to its editorial on the "changing" political landscape among Cuban-Americans, the two stars of its piece -- Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) -- lost their respective races.

Then, pursuant to its endorsement of the Castro regime's ransom demands for its American hostage, Alan Gross, the North Korean regime unconditionally released its American hostages -- with U.S. officials emphasizing how no "quid pro quo" took place and that North Korea would not be rewarded with diplomatic or sanctions relief.

This latest editorial is no different.

It simply regurgitates the AP's two recent attacks on the U.S.'s democracy programs -- to which our responses can be seen here and here.

(What a "coincidence" that on the very same day as this latest NYT editorial, the AP runs a new "big story" speculating about a possible reshuffling of USAID's democracy programs.)

However, what this latest editorial lacks in substance, it makes up for in vitriolic. No wonder its was published in the front-page of Castro's rag, Granma, today (see image below).

It begins by calling the 1996 passing of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (knows as "Helms Burton"), which conditions the lifting of U.S. sanctions to democratic reforms and human rights, as an "act of revenge."

Apparently, the NYT is still upset that Congress passed this law pursuant to the Castro regime's murder of three American citizens and a permanent resident of the United States, when the civilian Cessna planes they were traveling in were pulverized over international waters by Cuban MIG fighter jets.

As the NYT sees it, this murder was either justified or should have been rewarded by the United States.

It then describes the recipients of U.S. democracy funding as "charlatans and swindlers." Of course, ignoring that the majority of these programs have been competently run over the years by prestigious NGOs, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Pan American Development Foundation and Freedom House.

Next, the NYT seeks to validate the hostage-taking of American development worker, Alan Gross, regurgitating that he "smuggled communications equipment" -- as if Internet connectivity was contraband.

The fact is Alan Gross is a development worker who traveled to Cuba to help its Jewish community connect freely to the Internet. He declared all of his equipment to Cuban customs upon his arrival. Moreover, his actions in Cuba are protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the right of all human beings "to receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

But it's the last sentence of this latest editorial that is most revealing.

It states, "Washington should recognize that the most it can hope to accomplish is to positively influence Cuba’s evolution toward a more open society."

In other words, the most that can be accomplished is for Cuba to have a "benevolent" dictatorship.

For the NYT, Cubans are incapable or undeserving of the freedoms and democracy that 34 of the 35 nations in the Western Hemisphere enjoy.

Hence its aversion to "regime change," preferring instead "regime preservation."

This is also why the NYT is lobbying for the U.S. to accept Cuba's inclusion in the upcoming Summit of the Americas -- for who cares if Cuba clearly does not meet the Summit's democratic requirements?

After all, Cuba's regime should get a pass from democracy.

This is insulting, dangerous and bigoted. It's also why the NYT lobbying campaign should be rejected.

But at least they're now being honest.

Fact: Cuban-Americans Voted Overwhelmingly Against Charlie Crist

Monday, November 10, 2014
Last Tuesday, opponents of U.S. sanctions towards Cuba had a very bad election night.

After making Charlie Crist's race for Florida Governor a referendum of their policy views, they are now reeling from the loss.

Thus, in a last-ditch effort to test the public's intelligence, they absurdly purport Crist (despite his overall loss) won the Cuban-American vote (50-46%). Their basis is a non-scientific, CNN election day exit poll.

Never mind that -- if this were true -- Crist might be moving to Tallahassee right now.

Moreover, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) would have won reelection, rather than losing Miami-Dade County by 5%.

These Cuba policy foes -- and the political operatives who helped walk Crist off the plank -- think the public is naive and mathematically challenged.

Hence they seek to peddle a non-scientific, election day exit poll, which doesn't even factor any early voting and absentee ballots (through which a significant amount of Cuban-Americans vote), and whose minimal sample makes it notoriously unreliable.

Fortunately, the facts are easily accessible to anyone (who is not lazy and dishonest) by simply tabulating the actual ballots cast.

The map below illustrates the Miami-Dade precincts won by Governor Rick Scott (red) vs. Charlie Crist (blue).

It clearly shows that Scott won all of the precincts with the highest Cuban-American voter concentration.

For example, in the Hialeah precincts, where a majority of Cuban-Americans run the spectrum from first-wave to recent-arrivals, Scott won by over 65%.

Meanwhile, further south, in the overwhelmingly Cuban-American precincts of Tamiami, Westchester and West Dade (known as "the 400s"), Scott also won handily.

Here's a sampling of some of those precincts (and Governor Scott's actual ballot performance):

412 - 69%
413 - 72%
414 - 67%
420 - 68%
421 - 67%
422 - 66%
423 - 69%
437 - 70%
438 - 71%
439 - 70%
440 - 70%
451 - 73%

Moreover, in all of the majority Cuban-American precincts, turnout surpassed the county-wide average.

In other words, not only did Cuban-Americans vote against Charlie Crist, but they did so more intensely than their peers.

The election results speak for themselves.

WSJ: Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

Sunday, November 9, 2014
By Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal:

Cuba’s Slave Trade in Doctors

Havana earns almost $8 billion a year off the backs of the health workers it sends to poor countries.

Western cultures don’t approve of human trafficking, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited.” Yet it’s hard to find any journalist, politician, development bureaucrat or labor activist anywhere in the world who has so much as batted an eye at the extensive human-trafficking racket now being run out of Havana. This is worth more attention as Cuban doctors are being celebrated for their work in Africa during the Ebola crisis.

Cuba is winning accolades for its international “doctor diplomacy,” in which it sends temporary medical professionals abroad—ostensibly to help poor countries battle disease and improve health care. But the doctors are not a gift from Cuba. Havana is paid for its medical missions by either the host country, in the case of Venezuela, or by donor countries that send funds to the World Health Organization. The money is supposed to go to Cuban workers’ salaries. But neither the WHO nor any host country pays Cuban workers directly. Instead the funds are credited to the account of the dictatorship, which by all accounts keeps the lion’s share of the payment and gives the worker a stipend to live on with a promise of a bit more upon return to Cuba.

It’s the perfect crime: By shipping its subjects abroad to help poor people, the regime earns the image of a selfless contributor to the global community even while it exploits workers and gets rich off their backs. According to DW, Germany’s international broadcaster, Havana earns some $7.6 billion annually from its export of health-care workers.

This is big business, which if it weren’t being carried out by gangster Marxists would surely offend journalists. Instead they lap it up. In an Oct. 24 interview with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour lighted up when she talked about Cuba’s health-care workers in Africa. “Cuba clearly has something to teach the world in its rapid response, doesn’t it,” Ms. Amanpour gushed. Mr. Kim agreed, calling it “a wonderful gesture.”

What the Cuban workers in the line of the Ebola fire are being paid remains a state secret. But human trafficking is not new for Havana nor is it limited to the medical profession. In October 2008 a federal judge in Miami ruled in favor of three Cuban workers who claimed they, along with some 100 others, had been sent by the regime to Curaçao to work off Cuban debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. The plaintiffs described horrific working conditions for which they were paid three cents an hour.

The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time that the company “admitted that the Cuban workers’ passports were seized and that their unpaid wages were deducted from the debt Havana owed the company.” Tomas Bilbao of the Cuba Study Group in Washington told the paper that “these types of violations are not out of the ordinary for the Cuban government.” Their attorney told the paper that back home in Cuba, after they cried foul, their family members lost jobs and access to schooling and suffered harassment from gangs.

Making medical professionals an export product is provoking a doctor shortage in Cuba, which is exacerbating widespread privation in health care. A humane government might turn its attention to this domestic misery, but there’s no money in that. Instead Cuba sells the labor of health professionals abroad even in the midst of persistent dengue and cholera outbreaks on the island.

Cuban doctors are not forced at gunpoint to become expat slaves, but they are given offers they cannot refuse. As Cuban doctor Antonio Guedes, who now lives in exile in Madrid, told the German DW, “Whoever does not cooperate may lose his job, or at least his position or his son will not get a place at university.” As with the workers in Curaçao, the regime keeps health-care workers under constant surveillance and confiscates their passports. Something about that doesn’t sound voluntary.

When given the chance, many of those trafficked have fled. In the last two years alone almost 3,100 Cubans have taken advantage of a special U.S. visa program that recognizes the exploitation of Cuban health professionals sent to third countries. As punishment the regime prohibits their families from leaving Cuba to see them. Getting certified to practice medicine in the U.S. can be long and arduous.

Doctors groups in Brazil have pressured the Brazilian government to demand that Cuba raise the slave wage it was paying some 11,000 Cuban health workers in that country. But last week Brazilian federal prosecutor Luciana Loureiro Oliveira said there is evidence that Havana still keeps at least 75% of the money designated by donors as salaries. She called this “frankly illegal” because it violates Brazilian labor law and said the Cubans should be paid directly.

That would be the end of Cuban do-gooding in Brazil.