CubaBrief: PAHO must face human trafficking claims. Germany seeking access to citizen sentenced to 25 year prison term for filming protests. Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela share similar torture practices

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO) ,”must face a lawsuit by Cuban doctors accusing it of helping arrange a program in which they were compelled to work in Brazil against their will, violating human trafficking laws”, decided unanimously a three-judge panel of the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, informed Reuters yesterday.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) building in Washington DC.

Reuters reported that “according to the lawsuit, Cuba and Brazil used PAHO as an intermediary in order to avoid a direct agreement between the two countries which would have had to be approved by the Brazilian parliament.” According to the same report “the Cuban government received 85% of the money paid by Brazil, with just 10% going to the doctors and 5% retained by PAHO as a fee. The funds passed through PAHO’s U.S.-based bank account.”

PAHO has been caught up in scandals involving the failure to report a viral outbreak of Zika in Cuba in 2017, and with the above case accused of human trafficking. Mary O’ Grady described in her April 12, 2020 OpEd in The Wall Street Journal how PAHO was profiting off the trafficking of Cuban doctors in an arrangement with the Castro regime and called for an audit of the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO) .The Yucatan Times also raided concerns from a Mexican perspective in the article “The Cuban medical brigades -A history of enslavement.”

Too many believe the propaganda claims of the Castro regime, and do not mind profiting from human trafficking, but the reailty is far worse, not only for doctors, but also patients. If healthcare is so great in Cuba, why did a cancer patient risk his life windsurfing to reach the United States last week to obtain treatment for his cancer?

The New York Times reported on how Cuban doctors in Venezuela were ordered to deny or ration care to advance Nicolas Maduro’s election prospects in the March 17, 2019 article, “It Is Unspeakable’: How Maduro Used Cuban Doctors to Coerce Venezuela Voters,” including the denial of needed oxygen to deathly ill patients. Worse yet, not all the Cubans dressed up as medical doctors, according to this article, were doctors, some were secret police and they were practicing medicine without a license.

This relationship between PAHO, the World Health Organization, and the Castro dictatorship has resulted in dangerous lies. The 2016 claim of the World Health Organization Bulletin that in 2015 “Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis as public health problems.” When visiting Cubans that worked in the healthcare sector were asked about these claims, they just rolled their eyes.

Meanwhile, according to Avert, an NGO that provides information on HIV worldwide, “nearly 90 percent of new infections in the Caribbean in 2017 occurred in four countries — Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.”

More contagious diseases in Cuba are also covered up.

CiberCuba reported on April 1, 2020 that the mother of a young girl with coronavirus was detained after criticizing Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz Canel for the spread of the illness. Cynically, Diaz Canel on April 9, 2020 stated that “hiding information can be woefully lethal” but the official communist daily Granma warned that reporting “false or malicious news about the coronavirus” was punishable by up to four years in prison.

Let us examine what the regime considers “false or malicious news” based on how it has applied the policy in the past.

In 1997 when dengue broke out in Cuba, the regime tried to cover it up. When a doctor spoke out, he was locked up, sentenced to 8 years in prison. Amnesty International recognized Dr. Desi Mendoza as a prisoner of conscience, and he was released from prison in 1998 under condition he leave Cuba. The dictatorship eventually recognized that there had been a dengue epidemic.

A 2012 cholera outbreak once again demonstrated how the Cuban public health system operates. News of the outbreak in Manzanillo, in the east of the island, broke in El Nuevo Herald on June 29, 2012 thanks to reporting by the outlawed independent press in the island. Official media did not confirm the outbreak until days later on July 3, 2012. BBC News reported on July 7, 2012 that a patient had been diagnosed with Cholera in Havana. The dictatorship stated that it had it under control. Independent journalist Calixto Martínez was arrested on September 16, 2012 for reporting on the Cholera outbreak, and declared an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. Cholera outbreaks would continue on the island.

The Castro regime succeeded in covering up the 2017 Zika outbreak, but eventually in 2019, due to sick foreign tourists diagnosed with the disease, it was traced back to Cuba. PAHO tried to excuse the failure in reporting as a “technical glitch.” History of past outbreaks would indicate otherwise.

The lack of transparency and accountability has also been demonstrated in the current COVID-19 pandemic. This should not be a shock because secrecy, and repression are features, not bugs, in the Cuban communist system.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on March 29, 2022 that “its diplomats are working to get access to a German citizen imprisoned in Cuba since last year,” reports the Associated Press.

German citizen Luis Frómeta Compte sentenced to 25 years in prison for filming 11J protest with his camera.

Luis Frómeta Compte, a resident of Dresden who has both German and Cuban citizenship, was arrested on July 11, 2021, for filming an anti-government demonstration during a vacation in Cuba using his cell phone. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in proceedings that do not meet international legal standards.

Prisoners in Cuba are at the absolute mercy of the Cuban dictatorship. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations are not allowed to enter the country and monitor the human rights situation there. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not had access to Cuba’s prisons since 1990. By comparison, between 2002 and the present the ICRC has visited the prison at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba over 100 times.

Cuba is not a healthcare superpower as regime apologists claim, but experts in the application of torture on prisoners with impunity and zero transparency. Worse yet, the regime in Havana has exported these practices to Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

The Prague-based Casla Institute released a report that demonstrated that “the dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela share patterns of Arbitrary Detention and Torture and ignore Regional and Universal Human Rights Protection Organizations.”

Madrid, March 24, 2022

Reuters, March 29, 2022

Public health org must face Cuban doctors’ trafficking claims

By Brendan Pierson

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

  • Appeals court rejects PAHO’s claim of immunity for transactions in U.S.

  • Doctors say they were forced to work in Brazil under threat of punishment

(Reuters) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), an international body that promotes health initiatives in the Americas, must face a lawsuit by Cuban doctors accusing it of helping arrange a program in which they were compelled to work in Brazil against their will, violating human trafficking laws.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday that PAHO’s status as an international organization did not make it immune from the lawsuit because the doctors had accused it of financial misconduct within the United States.

PAHO and Samuel Dubbin of Dubbin & Kravetz, a lawyer for the doctors, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case, brought by four doctors in 2018 in the Southern District of Florida and transferred in 2020 to Washington, D.C., district court, centers on the so-called Mais Medicos, or More Doctors, program, in which Cuba in 2012 agreed to send doctors to work in Brazil, which would pay for their services.

According to the lawsuit, Cuba and Brazil used PAHO as an intermediary in order to avoid a direct agreement between the two countries which would have had to be approved by the Brazilian parliament.

The Cuban government received 85% of the money paid by Brazil, with just 10% going to the doctors and 5% retained by PAHO as a fee. The funds passed through PAHO’s U.S.-based bank account

The doctors in their lawsuit said that they had escaped from the program to the United States. They alleged they were forced to work under the threat of punishment by their government and paid far less than the value of their work. They are seeking to represent a class of similarly situated doctors in the program.

The doctors said that PAHO violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act by facilitating the program.

PAHO moved to dismiss the lawsuit, citing a U.S. law that gives international organizations the same immunity from being sued as foreign governments under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg agreed that claims related to PAHO’s activities outside the United States were barred, and dismissed them. However, he said claims could proceed based on PAHO’s financial activity because the FSIA does not apply when an action “is based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States.”

On appeal, PAHO argued that the doctors’ action was not “based upon” the financial transactions in the United States, but rather on foreign conduct. In Tuesday’s opinion penned by U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson, the D.C. Circuit said that the financial transactions, allegedly made in furtherance of trafficking, could stand on their own as a cause of action.

Circuit Judges David Tatel and Cornelia Pillard joined in the opinion.

U.S. officials have previously said that Cuba relies on forced labor in “medical missions” abroad for income.

The case is Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, No. 20-7114.

For PAHO: David Bowker of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

For the doctors: Samuel Dubbin of Dubbin & Kravetz

https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/public-health-org-must-face-cuban-doctors-trafficking-claims-2022-03-29/

ABC News, March 29, 2022

German diplomats seeking access to citizen jailed in Cuba

Germany’s Foreign Ministry says its diplomats are working to get access to a German citizen imprisoned in Cuba since last year

ByThe Associated Press

March 29, 2022, 9:38 AM

BERLIN — Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday its diplomats are working to get access to a German citizen imprisoned in Cuba since last year.

Supporters say Luis Frómeta Compte, a resident of Dresden who has both German and Cuban citizenship, was arrested on July 11, 2021, after filming an anti-government demonstration during a vacation in Cuba.

According to the International Society for Human Rights, Frómeta Compte was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in December for causing public outrage and inciting unrest. The group said the 59-year-old plans to go on hunger strike to protest his incarceration.

“The German embassy in Havana is dealing with the case and is in close contact with the Cuban authorities, the lawyer and the relatives of the person concerned,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry and the embassy “are making intensive efforts to gain consular access to the person concerned,” it added.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/german-diplomats-seeking-access-citizen-jailed-cuba-83739813

Casla Institute, March 24, 2022

The dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela share patterns of Arbitrary Detention and Torture and ignore Regional and Universal Human Rights Protection Organizations. | Casla Institute

The democratic world must do more for the political prisoners of dictatorial regimes. In this opportunity, we ask for the political prisoners of the dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Each political prisoner is a story of pain and personal and family suffering, frustrated dreams, children who will not enjoy their fathers or mothers, young people who will spend most of their youth behind bars for dreaming of living in Freedom and Democracy, women and men tortured and mistreated mercilessly and with impunity.

1,442 people were arrested in Cuba as a result of the protests that took place last July, of which 756 remain in prison and at least 147 have already been sentenced, including young people as young as 16 years old, using the crime of “sedition” in most of the convictions to exemplify the punishment imposed, with sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison, just for demonstrating. 179 people remain detained in Nicaragua, including former presidential candidates, political leaders, students, journalists, businessmen and members of civil society, who are accused by the Attorney General’s Office of various crimes, such as promotion of terrorist acts, conspiracy, treason and even administrative and commercial crimes

At least 270 people are detained in Venezuela for political reasons, including social leaders, members of Non-Governmental Organizations, social communicators, union leaders, young demonstrators, high, medium and low-ranking military, police and foreigners or dual nationals, generally accused of Treason, Instigation of Rebellion or Rebellion, Conspiracy or alleged “terrorist” acts.

The 3 dictatorial governments resort to the same patterns to persecute, intimidate, imprison and punish those who oppose or dissent, such as:

a) Arbitrary detentions before, during or after trial, without legal basis, in many cases with forged files and false procedures, violating the Universal Human Rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, without the right to a fair trial or the right to defense, because Justice in these countries is at the service of those who hold power, and even keeps political detainees imprisoned for years without having been tried or having served a sentence, as in Venezuela.

b) Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment that are applied in political prisons that do not comply with the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners, but on the contrary, are places built or remodeled to imprison and torture especially opponents, in fetid cells, without light and natural air, where physical Torture applied at different times is complemented daily with White Torture and Psychological Torture, and the victims suffer prolonged isolation, verbal abuse, threats against their lives, and the torture known as “Deliberate Deprivation of Livelihood” is applied in a cruel way, subjecting the detainees to little or no food for days, scarce hydration where the victims survive on less than a glass of water a day, and whose consequences result in serious stomach and digestive diseases, malnutrition and loss of muscle mass, in addition to skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases, etc.. that detainees develop due to prison conditions.

Cubans Armando Sosa Fortuny, Pablo Moya Dela and Cristian Pérez have died as a result of torture and illnesses acquired in prison and the lack of timely medical attention. In Nicaragua, political prisoner Hugo Torres died due to lack of medical attention. In Venezuela, 11 political detainees have died in State custody, two of them killed directly in torture processes, others by induced psychological mistreatment, physical deterioration and lack of medical care: Rafael Acosta Arevalo and Fernando Alban, Raul Baduel, Hector Buitriago, Rodolfo Gonzalez Martinez, Carlos Andres Garcia, Rafael Arreaza Soto, Nelson Martinez, Pedro Pablo Santana Carballo, Salvador Franco and Gabriel Medina Diaz have died.

c) Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela ignore and disobey the pronouncements and resolutions of the Regional and Universal Organizations to which they belong, which demand the release of political prisoners, the cessation of repression and persecution, and respect for human rights. Decisions such as the Precautionary Measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) or those issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Rapporteur ship against Torture of the United Nations are shamelessly flouted by these regimes, without even serving as pressure to stop torture, ill-treatment or detention, as the case may be.

In view of this, the CASLA Institute calls on the Authorities and the Representatives of the Democratic States that make up the different Regional and Universal Organizations that promote and defend Human Rights, appealing to the Responsibility they have before history, to seek real mechanisms in accordance with International Law for the Protection of Victims and to exert the necessary pressure for the release of all persons detained for political reasons in these countries.

Every political prisoner taken from a Dictatorship is a victory, a hope, an embrace and a family reunion. Freedom for all Political Prisoners!

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2022/3/28/the-dictatorships-of-cuba-nicaragua-and-venezuela-share-patterns-of-arbitrary-detention-and-torture-and-ignore-regional-and-universal-human-rights-protection-organizations-casla-institute