During Senate Hearing on Human Trafficking, Cuba Concerns Raised

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the global problem of forced labor and sex slavery, and on how the U.S. can fight it.

Excerpt from Bloomberg:

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the committee, asked about talks to normalize relations with Cuba, saying that the State Department has identified the island nation as a source for sex trafficking of women and children.

Menendez pointed out that Cuban doctors sent overseas to work don’t receive payments, which instead are sent directly to the Cuban government.

“One thing is to have a blind eye, the other thing is to be complicit in the trafficking, and that’s the reality of Cuba,” said Menendez, a critic of the Obama administrations moves to normalize relations with Cuba.

‘Nefarious Aspects’

Sarah Sewall, the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, told Menendez that Cuba presents a challenge.

“Government complicity in trafficking is one of the most troubling and nefarious aspects” of the issue, she said. While U.S. officials are raising the issue with Cuban counterparts in the talks, and “we would like to take advantage of any opening we have, the problems, as you pointed out, are severe.”