Repressive regulations that Cuban doctors fighting against the Coronavirus must comply with

The Cuban government has sent a number of 1500 doctors to various countries, to cooperate in the fight against the Coronavirus. Cuban professionals who operate abroad have to comply with the oppressive regulations imposed by their government, which include the veto on freedom of expression, the limitation on freedom of movement, they also have to report their love relationships, and not unauthorized persons can live with or frequent.

The organization Human Rights Watch has denounced the restrictions imposed by the Cuban regime, «Cuban doctors sent a response to the COVID-19 pandemic offering valuable services to communities, but at the cost of their most basic freedoms», said José Miguel Vivanco, America’s director of Human Rights Watch, who also alerted the governments that received the doctors, demand that Cuba reform its system, which regulates with those who must live, speak or maintain a loving relationship.

The report made by the same organization describes the requirements that Cuban doctors must meet to be part of the missions, and the restrictions that they could receive if they are not fulfilled, such as withholding their salary, expulsion from the mission to be returned to Cuba, and even years in prison. Human Rights Watch considered that the exact number of professionals who committed the government-regulated disciplinary offenses is unknown, assures that the doctors interviewed affirm that disciplinary difficulties are frequent, while cases with criminal penalties are small.

Cuban legislation limits the right of exit from the country to its citizens, and more those who are professionals in medicine, that is why the latter have special passports, called official passports, which are only valid while on a mission.

Médicos cubanos
Cuban doctors arrived in Milan. REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Cuban doctors are a regulated population and must obtain special permits before leaving the country, even if they resign their positions. Cuba excuses itself by ensuring that health workers are vital to the conservative country because they are important to the nation’s economic, social, and scientific development.

The UN Special Rapporteurs, dedicated to contemporary forms of slavery and its causes in addition to human trafficking, in November 2019, requested information from Cuba about the working conditions of their doctors, reporting an excess of hours worked, limitation on vacations, threats from the Cuban regime, restrictions on rights and freedom of expression, also reported: «many doctors feel pressured to participate in missions and fear retaliation if they do not«.

For its part, the Cuban government has denied the rapporteurs’ accusations, assuring that they would be campaigns promoted by the United States. Another human rights organization, Prisoner Defenders, obtained dozens of testimonies from Cuban doctors on international missions before the Coronavirus pandemic, who claimed to have accessed for fear of reprisals from the authorities, and others confessed to having accepted in order to leave the country and get food like meat that they couldn’t get with their wages.