Cuban Doctors deserve fair treatment. Get educated. Thousands of Cuban Doctors are being deprived of their human rights. 01:05 VIDEO DURATION Live Freely. Work Fairly. Maintain Identity. Cuba’s medical missions abroad are not humanitarian. They are a calculated, coercive money-making scheme by the Cuban government, relying on forced labor and indentured servitude to fill its state budget.

Cuban Doctors Overseas
Medical Program

Facts
Cuba continues to aggressively promote international medical programs at the expense of the doctors in order to generate foreign currency and hard assets through labor.
Doctors in Cuba’s medical labor program constitute Cuba’s #1 export to foreign markets, and its top source of annual revenue.
Exporting health care professionals to foreign governments generates around $6.5B annually, making it a bigger source of revenue than the island’s tourism industry.
More than 50,000 medical professionals are exported over 67 countries worldwide via international agreements between nation states. (Full list below)
The largest and most expensive medical mission Cuba has ever participated in is an ongoing program in Venezuela, with over 30,000 Cuban doctors still working there.
Cuban doctors who served in Brazil, have filed a class action lawsuit against PAHO, alleging it violated the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act and RICO Act in Federal Court in Miami.
Countries receiving
Cuban Doctors
These are the countries currently receiving Cuban doctors. Those highlighted countries have recently ended their programs or changed policy to begin paying doctors directly.

AMERICAS

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Curacao
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Chad
  • Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guinea
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Republica Arabe Saharaui Democratica (Official name of Western Sahara)
  • Sao Tomé and Príncipe
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Eswatini
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe

MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA

  • Algeria
  • Qatar

EAST ASIA & THE PACIFIC

  • Kiribati
  • Kuwait
  • Mongolia​
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Bahrain
  • China
  • Vanuatu
  • Nauru
  • East Timor
  • Vietnam

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

  • Portugal
WHY IS THIS A
HUMAN RIGHTS
ISSUE?
WHY IS THIS A
HUMAN RIGHTS
ISSUE?

More than 50,000 medical professionals are currently exported to approx. 70 countries worldwide.

The Cuban doctors receive only a fraction of what Cuba is paid. Most of their pay is then frozen in bank accounts on the island, with the promise the doctors would get the money if they complete their official missions and returned to the island.

24-hour surveillance, no freedom movement, and poor living conditions are only some of the challenges Doctors face in their mission countries.

This generates the government around $6.5 billion annually, making it a bigger source of revenue than the island’s tourism industry.

Cuban government regulations punish doctors who leave official missions, banning them from returning to Cuba for eight years.

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Cuba and the Nobel Peace Prize

Cuba’s International Medical Program (Henry Reeve Brigade) was nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, based on doctors’ global COVID-19 response in countries all over the world at the direction of Cuba’s government. If selected, the Cuban government (not the individual physicians) would be awarded approximately $1 million, which would be added to the $6 billion Cuba’s government takes in on average annually for forced labor services. Doctors are forced to participate, paid as little as 5% of what they’re sold for, and stripped of their basic human rights.

 

Forced Labor Disguised as Humanitarian Relief

The Henry Reeve Brigade, and the Cuban Medical Missions program overall, is often cited as an internationalist humanitarian organization, but its proponents fail to be mention that it violates the rights of its citizens and engages in human trafficking.

Thousands of former Cuban doctors have defected from the program and have partnered with allies, human rights’ advocates, NGOs, and academics to speak out about the nature of these so-called “missions.” Awarding the program itself would make a mockery of the Nobel Peace Prize and of all the Cuban people.

 

Violations of Human Rights

Cuba generates enough money from its medical missions program – its biggest source of revenue – to fund 60 percent of its budget through the abhorrent manipulation and forced work of more than 70,000 of its doctors. Once they arrive in their designated foreign city, Cuban officials seize their passports and demand power of attorney. The doctors are then given a nightly curfew, monitored 24 hours per day, and prohibited from engaging with friends  (engaging socially with anyone outside of the Cuban mission?)

In 2019, two special rapporteurs of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council examined the Henry Reeve Brigade and reported that the Cuban government retains 75 percent to 90 percent of doctors’ monthly salaries and often the “salary paid to medical workers would not allow them to live in dignity… and the Government of Cuba would ‘freeze’ a part of the salary that the doctors would have access to only after their return to the country… many times they do not receive the entire amount that is due to them.”

The U.S. Department of State’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) called Cuba’s medical missions program forced labor, stating that the government had shown “…a pattern to profit from labor export programs with strong indications of forced labor, particularly its foreign medical missions program.”

In June of 2021, the European Union’s (EU) parliament passed a resolution condemning the Cuban government’s human rights abuses of its people and recommending that the EU not enter the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba. The resolution cites a number of human rights violations, including Cuba’s medical missions program, as evidence for the EU to not enter into this treaty, which would normalize relations with the Cuban government and provide it with access to $3 billion in foreign investment (annually?)

 

Thousands of Cuban Doctors Have Fled

Not surprisingly, thousands of doctors who were forced on these missions ultimately chose to defect from their country, their families and friends rather than to continue to be exploited by their government. They defected while facing extreme penalties for attempted escape if they were caught. Because of this, the Cuban government calls them deserters and denies them the right to visit their country and be with our families. These practices violate every forced labor and trafficking indicator established by the International Labor Organization , who the committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to in 1969.

 

Legal Action

The Henry Reeve Brigade is also part of a federal class-action suit, Ramona Matos, et al. v. Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), over its abuses in Brazil. The lawsuit alleges that the doctors were forced to work in Brazil, whose government used PAHO to circumvent its laws to pay the Cuban regime.  The PAHO received a total of $1.5 billion for the doctors’ services and sent Cuba 85% of that total. The Doctors received less than 10% and PAHO kept 5% for itself as a brokerage fee. In doing this, PAHO violated the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, and international law. The suit seeks compensation for the doctors for unpaid wages.

 

The Henry Reeve Brigade Does Not Deserve a Nobel Peace Prize

The Henry Reeve Brigade should not be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for its work around the world amidst COVID-19. We have deep admiration and respect for the Cuban doctors and nurses who have and continue to provide care to the sick across the world, particularly through the worst epidemic of our time. If the Nobel Committee recognizes the work of this brigade of doctors, it should be coupled with an admonishment of the Government of Cuba for its deplorable exploitation of these physicians. If the Committee chooses not to condemn this program that amounts to modern-day slavery, it should — at the very least – remove Cuba for consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee has not shied away from controversial decisions in selecting nominees for its Peace Prize in the past, and we applaud its courage. However, giving this distinction to the Cuban government’s Henry Reeve Brigade would legitimize human trafficking, forced labor and government exploitation of healers whose mission is to save lives and treat the ill. We petition the Nobel Committee to not consider this program for its Peace Prize.

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PETITION

Stop the inhumane treatment of Cuban Doctors

The Issue

Read more about why we believe that this is a major issue.

Where it's happening

Check out the countries where Cuban Doctors are located

News

Read about the press coverage on Cuban Doctors' Human Rights

VIDEOS

News

Cuba’s military dictatorship sent Ramona Matos Rodriguez to Brazil in September 2013 as part of its foreign “medical missions.” Posted to the Amazonian state of Pará, Dr. Matos Rodriguez was to be paid by Brazil for her services. But she says she received only about 10% of the salary Brazil allocated.

Cuba’s government accused the Trump administration on Wednesday of orchestrating the end of the island’s medical missions to several Latin American countries in order to cut one of the country’s main revenue sources.

Ramona Matos viveu sem documentos e vigiada o tempo todo por seus superiores, e foi forçada a falsificar estatísticas e jogar fora medicamentos na privada.

Até que, decepcionada com as mentiras do governo cubano, resolveu cruzar a Amazônia e desertar do “negócio que são as missões médicas de seu país”.

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