Freedom House: Grounds for Cuba's Human Trafficking Upgrade Deeply Questionable

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Excerpt from yesterday's Congressional testimony by Amb. Mark Lagon, President of Freedom House and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Trafficking in Persons, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing (Demanding Accountability: Evaluating the 2015 “Trafficking in Persons Report”):

"Cuba was upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List. With a diplomatic opening unmatched by any political opening, Freedom House ranks Cuba as Not Free. Some might claim a past downward political bias against Cuba in U.S. trafficking assessments was removed with the diplomatic opening. I do not look at the past that way.

The grounds for an upgrade are deeply questionable. The Report says:

- 'The penal code does not criminalize all forms of human trafficking' on paper, not to speak of enforcement.

- The Cuba regime did not even dissemble and claim any 'efforts to prevent forced labor' nor 'any trafficking-specific shelters.'

It is far-fetched to suppose that there is no forced labor in state enterprises or for political prisoners in one of the world’s few remaining Marxist-Leninist states. Also, a burgeoning sex industry – welcoming sex tourism – fuels exploitation, despite steps the Report notes taken by Cuba to address sex trafficking."