Cuba’s ‘doctor diplomacy’ a cover for the Castro dictatorship’s slave trade in medical personnel

For years we have known Cuba’s Castro dictatorship runs a huge slave trade operation selling Cuban medical professionals to the highest bidder. The Cuban government likes to call it “doctor diplomacy,” but in reality, it is nothing less than modern-day slavery, producing billions of dollars in revenue for the socialist regime.

Apparently, after decades of human trafficking and tens of thousands of Cubans sold as slaves on the open market, the BBC finally figured it out:

The hidden world of the doctors Cuba sends overseas

Cuba has long been renowned for its medical diplomacy – thousands of its doctors work in healthcare missions around the world, earning the country billions of dollars in cash. But according to a new report, some of the doctors themselves say conditions can be nightmarish – controlled by minders, subject to a curfew and posted to extremely dangerous places, James Badcock reports.

For Dayli Coro, medicine was a calling.

“I studied medicine out of vocation. I used to sleep between three and four hours because I studied so hard. I worked hard in my first year of practice, I took on a lot of extra shifts. And now here I am. I cannot be a doctor in Cuba. It’s very frustrating.”

Dayli, now 31 years old, wanted to be an intensive care specialist. She says that after graduating, she was told that if she went on a medical mission to Venezuela, she would gain experience in her chosen field and that it would count as her three years of obligatory social service, which all graduates have to complete in Cuba before gaining full-status posts.

She agreed to join what Havana calls its “internationalist missions”, following a path trodden by hundreds of thousands of Cuban doctors. Since 1960, their medical work overseas has been held up by the communist government as a symbol of its solidarity with people all over the world. Fidel Castro described the medics as Cuba’s “army of white coats”.

As well as a source of great pride and prestige, it is also an economic lifeline for the regime. According to Cuban government figures and academic studies, the scheme earns Cuba around $8 billion per year in much-needed foreign currency.


According to a report by Prisoners Defenders, a Spain-based NGO that campaigns for human rights in Cuba and is linked to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) opposition group, doctors on average receive between 10% and 25% of the salary paid by the host countries, with the rest being kept by Cuba’s authorities.

Dayli says she voluntarily signed a contract for a three-year stint, but she neither had time to read it, nor was she given a personal copy.

In October 2011, the young doctor was posted to a clinic in the Venezuelan town of El Sombrero. The placement was part of the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighbourhood) scheme, which has distributed Cuban doctors around disadvantaged parts of the South American country since 2003 as a symbol of Cuban support for the regime of the late President Hugo Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela pays for this and other services by Cuban workers with oil.

Dayli says she found herself in a virtual war zone – one in which she became accustomed to having a gun pointed at her.

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