Spanish – A couple of weeks ago, President López Obrador claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic had “fit like a glove.” There was much debate at the time about the meaning of his words, which were, to say the least, inappropriate given the tragedy of hundreds of deaths that were already beginning to occur.
In light of what has been published over the last few days, he may have been referring to the fact that he finally achieved the goal he had been seeking for some time: to grant a lifeline to the Cuban dictatorship, by “hiring” between 590 and 800 Cuban doctors (I say “doctors” for the sake of convenience, since in reality they also include nurses, paramedics, therapists, stretcher operators, and other health care workers) to work in Mexico, the majority (supposedly 720 of them) concentrated in the country’s capital. This information is based on reports from the Mexico City authorities. It was necessary to provide transportation, food, and lodging to the professionals mentioned above in several hotels in the city. Hotels were forced to give up their rooms without compensation to “cooperate” in the official efforts against the pandemic. The federal government has been blunt about this.
López Obrador first signaled his intention to bring in Cuban doctors as soon as he came to power. He wanted to receive the thousands of doctors who were suddenly leaving Brazil. Then, in view of the scandal that was sparked, the Mexican president claimed that such information was untrue.
Today, it is proven, once again, that the López Obrador was the one who lied, the one who has become a serial liar. According to the organization SPIN-Political Communication Workshop, the president has made almost 25,000 “untrue statements” during his “morning” conferences since he came to power in December 2018. It should be no surprise that if he ranks first-place finish in the Guinness Book of Records as the most deceitful leader on the planet.
These doctors are part of the Medical Brigades program maintained by the Cuban dictatorship to send health workers to almost 70 countries- a total of 55,000 active workers. Such services are not free or merely out of solidarity: the dictatorship pockets between eight and 11.5 billion dollars with them every year, an amount that quadruples the island’s tourism income and is equivalent to about 6% of its GDP. The human trafficking business helps stabilize the Castro dictatorship’s decadent economy.
A noteworthy feature of the Cuban program is that it is a copy of the system imposed by North Korea in 1967 during the administration of Kim II-Sung, grandfather of the current ruler, Kim Jong Un, to exploit low-skilled labor in inhumane conditions. It is an improved copy because this is supposedly skilled labor. One might, however, wonder how qualified these professionals might be, given the inability of the Cuban health system to put an end to epidemics such as scabies or dengue fever in its own territory, or the not very reassuring reports about the real professional competence of these doctors.
It is an open secret that such doctors are, in fact, “undercover agents” that Havana uses to raise revenue and promote the revolution. Thus, most are forced to report to Castro’s Intelligence and Counterintelligence in the countries where they are posted, doing propaganda and coercion work in favor of leftist regimes. It is also important to note that many of the so-called doctors are merely spies. Their mission is to gather information about each country and infiltrate institutions such as the army, intelligence services, and telecommunications.
The members of these medical missions are, in reality, indentured: they face pressure to enlist and are threatened with reprisals by the Cuban government if they do not participate. When they arrive in a foreign country, their passports are held to prevent them from deserting, and they are forbidden to travel with their families. The families are used as hostages in case of bad behavior or desertion. They are abused at the job, and work up to 64 hours per week, often including weekends.
Additionally, these missions are infiltrated by spies who keep an eye on the doctors day and night. They are threatened or sexually harassed regularly, forbidden to make local friends or have love affairs without first reporting them. They are also not allowed to marry without asking permission, cannot drive, and are restricted from moving around. The doctors are forbidden to use cell phones or talk to the press. If they flee, they are sentenced to three to eight years in prison under Article 135 of the Cuban Penal Code or are prohibited from returning to Cuba. Their families and friends suffer various consequences: demotion of their jobs on the island, eviction from their homes, confiscation of “saved” funds, and broad social stigma, ostracism, and threats. There are many direct testimonies to this system of indentured servitude.
In return, the doctors only receive about 20% of their salaries, while 75% go to the Cuban dictatorship, and the remaining 5% to the Pan-American Health Organization, which shamefully acts as an intermediary in the business.
Moreover, of the 20% that the healthcare workers are supposed to receive, they get only half while they are on the mission. The other half is withheld in Havana to pressure them to return.
How much is the Mexican government paying for each doctor? The government has not declared this, but the amount paid to the Cuban dictatorship would be about 3,600 USD per worker. In Brazil, for example, Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff paid the Cuban government 3,400 USD a month for each member of the health brigade, of which the doctors were supposed to keep about 390 dollars, and another 390 was deposited in Cuba. This amount is nevertheless an important income for them since a doctor in Cuba can earn only 80 USD a month. But it does not change the fact that there is shameless exploitation of their hunger and need.
The government of López Obrador in Mexico is helping to perpetuate an immoral slave system, condemned even by the United Nations, as it sends people to a country to provide a service, but in exchange, the Cuban government keeps most of the money. Thanks to the government of the fourth transformation, we Mexicans have become accomplices to the most aberrant violations of human rights.
I also want to point out that we do not know how the presence of Cuban agents in Mexico will affect our relationship with the United States. Given López Obrador’s improvised handling of the COVID-19 crisis (and all of his government’s issues in general), it would not be surprising if he did not consider this other facet. We complain about being Trump’s “electoral piñata” in the United States, but we are not helping ourselves with our own bad decisions.