Cuba's State-Run Human Trafficking Business, Pt. 2

Thursday, May 5, 2016
From Cuba Archive:

Cuba's state-run human trafficking business

Part II: Export sales of blood products & body parts, state-sponsored/forced migration, forced labor of prisoners and minors, and sex trafficking

On March 22nd 2016, Cuba Archive’s Executive Director, Maria Werlau, testified at a congressional hearing that the Cuban state is likely “one of the largest and most profitable traffickers in the world” and runs a gigantic and growing trafficking business through numerous state enterprises. Based on this testimony, we previously published Part I on forced labor of exported temporary workers, but Cuba sponsors other forms of human trafficking.

Export sales of blood products and body parts

For decades, Cuba has been exporting blood products in international markets mostly to countries that are its close allies. International statistics from 1995 on indicate that these sales have averaged $30 million a year and these export sales lack the required consent of volunteer donors, over 400,000 Cuban citizens who are systematically coerced each year into donating their blood in massive country-wide campaigns, told their blood is for altruistic purposes.

Furthermore, the Cuban government started a puzzling export of human tissue, glands, and other body parts of unknown origin to Brazil that started growing very quickly beginning in 2005 and reached a peak of $88.4 million in 2013, as reports grew inside Cuba of suspected deaths or the plundering of bodies to harvest body parts, both suggestive of state sponsorship, that merit investigation.

Other forms of human trafficking in or by Cuba

The Cuban state also has a direct or indirect role in other forms of human trafficking: state-sponsored or forced migration, forced labor of prisoners and minors, and sex trafficking, including of minors with state complicity purportedly maintained to increase Cuba´s attraction as a tourism destination.

The absence of legal protections in Cuba and lacking international support

In Cuba, there is no legal protection for victims or individual or collective rights outside of those allowed by the Communist party. What’s worse, in many of the human trafficking cases, Cuba`s military dictatorship has accomplices, participants, sponsors, and promoters all over the world, including from well known corporations, large foundations, key international agencies, and some of the leading world democracies.

Because the main perpetrator of the trafficking is, in fact, the Cuban state —directly and indirectly— the exploited fall systematically and hopelessly into a virtual black hole given the little international awareness, support, or protection.

Some of the temporary workers find safe harbor in the countries where they serve, especially health professionals to the U.S. under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, in existence since 2006.

Click here to read the entire Congressional testimony.