GUATEMALA
FACTS
Health workers: 302
Others: 139
Cumulative: 3,000 (since 1998)
Mission status: Active
AGREEMENTS
MOST RECENT AGREEMENT
DURATION: +20 YEARS
STARTED: NOV 3, 1998 (HURRICANE MITCH)
AGREEMENT SIGNER: MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES OF GUATEMALA.
PREVIOUS AGREEMENTS
THE BRIGADE ARRIVED IN 1998 THROUGH THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH PROGRAM FOLLOWING HURRICANES
GEORGE AND MITCH.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Geographic areas: 17 of 22 departments in
the country.
Health areas: Ophthalmology; internal
medicine; pediatrics; comprehensive general
medicine; surgical; gynecology; stomatology;
anesthetics; and resuscitation.
Documented cases: Yes
Documented agreement : NO
Current facts:
● Active personnel: 441
● Defections: 125 (estimated)
● Did not return to Cuba: 125 (est.)
● Prohibited from returning: 100 (est.)
Official statistics available: Yes
Most relevant violations: Confiscation of
passports and medical license; sexual
harassment; withholding of wages; residential
confinement; political activities; and
falsification of statistics.

SUMMARY

In response to Hurricanes George and Mitch, in 1998 Cuba sent to Guatemala its Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade and established the Comprehensive Health Program (Programa Integral de Salud). Cuba sent more doctors with the support of the Chávez government in Venezuela. The salary of the Cuban doctors is miserable, around $250 per month, and they live in crowded, poor quality residences under curfew, in some of the most unsafe areas of the country. The number of medical workers has remained consistent over time, with around 300-350 doctors and 100-150 support staff. The amount paid by the Guatemalan government is likely small, less than $2,000 per person per month in total, which means the earnings from this mission are probably around $10 million per year. Guatemala is clearly taking advantage of the slave-like conditions in which the doctors work and live, in addition to helping to manipulate World Health Organization statistics, and to influence electoral politics. For many years the Cuba-Guatemala agreement has been mutually beneficial politically and economically. Several doctors have died, with no explanation given for the death of many of these. One of them died by electrocution in his home due to poor electrical conditions that are characteristic of the medical workers’ residences.

DOCUMENTED CASES

Anonymous: 7, through questionnaire
Documented violations: Yes
Not anonymous: None
Public (media): 1

Findings: Between 54 and 84 work hours per week; sexual harassment; threats;
confiscation of passports and, for many, signed contracts; constant monitoring;
impediments to obtain licenses; violations stemming from Resolution 168 of the Cuban
Ministry of Foreign Trade; residential curfew; residences in poor condition; retaliatory acts
against colleagues; unpaid vacation; falsification to boost statistics; and political activities
in service of host government. The Cuban government pays around $250 per month per
health worker. The workers are forced sign a document saying they receive some payment
from the Guatemalan government, which is false.
Case Spotlight: Dadllany was a 26-year-old family doctor when she was sent to Guatemala
in 2009 —her first international mission. Her minders confiscated her passport on arrival
and later sought to force her to enter into a relationship with a man whom she later learned
was a drug trafficker. After refusing for two months, she was pulled from the mission. She
defected from her next post
, Brazil (This case was documented anonymously as part of the
complaint submitted to the UN and ICC.)

NAMES OF CHIEFS OF MISSIONS

Mission Coordinator in Guatemala: Dr. Yuri R. Batista Varela.

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