Javier Larrondo is the co-founder and representative for the European Union of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu) and the founder of the NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders, based in Madrid. The two NGOs have just lodged a complaint against Cuba for slavery, concerning the hundreds of thousands of professionals sent every year to a hundred countries in the world. The complaint was also presented to five UN commissions, more than two hundred NGOs, 58 countries that hosted the missions, 35 democratic countries, the European Commission and the United States Trafficking Committee. . According to Larrondo, the Cuban regime continues to exercise ruthless repression against dissidents. According to him, his strength lies in “a double diplomatic dynamic, that of the so-called moral superiority of socialism, and that of Cuban doctors who falsify the statistics of the countries in which they work to guarantee their representatives positions in the United States. international health authorities “.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel reacted to the complaint, in English and Spanish, on twitter: “Again, the lie of the Empire (the United States, Ed) tries to discredit the Cuban programs of aid to the health abroad by calling them modern slavery “and” trafficking in persons “. Solidarity and the example of Cuba bother them. This amuses Larrondo who salutes this attentive reading of the charges and ensures that the members of his NGO finance themselves. He denounces “the lie, with which the Cuban authorities have deceived the left for decades, they who are capitalists who drive in cars to 200,000 euros, slavers and royalists since they spend the crown according to the rules they fix themselves. ”
On February 24, a new constitution was approved at 86.5% (a score almost low compared to the 97% approval of that of 1976), which, admittedly, declare open the economy to the market, allow private property and foreign investment, but under state control. “Cosmetic changes to attract international credits,” according to the 350-page report that supports the ICC complaint. For the new Constitution especially affirms the “irrevocable” character of socialism on the island and recalls that the Communist Party is the one and only “superior ruling political force of society and the State”. Cuba has just celebrated the sixty years of the Cuban Revolution. Appraisal: a poverty rate of 90%, a minimum wage of 9 dollars, and an imported food at 80%, including sugar. Doctors and other professionals are, the document goes forward, only the tool of the Cuban authorities, who consider them as their property, to reap immense benefits and maintain the “dictatorship”.
The program of international missions of Cuban professionals has existed for decades. Why is the complaint being filed now? Did the interruption of the program in Brazil and the fact that many doctors dared to stay contributed to it?
Javier Larrondo: Not really. We have been looking for ways to defend the rights of Cubans in general and to study how the regime works. And what we concluded, after conducting many studies, is that on the island, there was no way to attack them in international courts. Not only because they control everything that happens, everything that is said, all the data, but most importantly, because they have not subscribed to any agreement or international treaty that allows them to be judged. Neither the International Criminal Court, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, nor any of the UN agreements, except the one on the rights of the child. But even in this case, they have not signed the protocols that allow for the filing of individual complaints, so they are unassailable. The only Achilles heel on the island was that she exported what she was doing inside. So we started to study the missions. We had a lot of luck, or bad luck, it depends on the point of view we take, because Brazil was a gold mine of complaints, cases, judgments … We got in touch with lawyers and have been able to gather a great deal of evidence on the “Mais Médicos” program in Brazil. But we have testimonials from ten countries and in particular, from Botswana, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Bolivia … So we have a range of casuistry more important than, but Médicos.
Has it become more difficult for Cuban authorities to control doctors abroad?
We do not think so. But the Cuban regime lived through the Soviet Union for a long time. Then he lived thanks to Venezuela. He finds himself without this source of income and has to invent others. So they had to move to countries that were not favorable to them. In Brazil, though, since Dilma Rousseff was completely associated with them. The idea of the program, But Médicos does not come from her, but from the Cuban regime that needed income, she herself declared it. But Brazil is a democratic country, with independent judicial mechanisms and transparency, which have protected doctors. So everything that went on in the missions was exposed. It was the regime’s lack of resources that led him to extend his slavery program to areas he did not control so well.
No more. It has always been very controlled and does not have the economic or media resources to organize itself. The repression is very strong. But there is a light, hope. The Unpacu (Cuban Patriotic Union) is a human rights organization in Cuba that, for the first time, reaches a thousand activists. She even has 5,000, whole neighborhoods. So yes, there is progress, Oswaldo Payá (dissident founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and died in suspicious circumstances, Ed) has never managed to have more than a little more than one hundred activists and we are talking about a organization that has more than 5000. There is hope, but let’s be humble and realistic: the regime crushes the Unpacu, they have fifty political prisoners, or 60% of the 140 political prisoners today. Before the vote on the Constitution, Unpacu campaigned for the “no” vote. And from February 11 to 24, 2019, the authorities brutally invaded twenty of its twenty-five seats (they also have 122 cells). It can not be said that Unpacu triumphs. It is growing, it is an important organization, but the way is still long.
<< The Cuban authorities’ strategy is to impoverish the population
However, we saw an LGBTQ demonstration, moreover violently repressed, in mid-May. >>
Yes, it is true that it is rare that there are demonstrations, in general, and in particular, of the LGBTQ community. Gay men have always been repressed in Cuba and it must be remembered that for a very long time, those with HIV were crammed into cells without treatment. We were just waiting for them to die. There are indeed some areas in which people are trying to resist. But the strategy of the Cuban authorities, much like what happens now in Venezuela, is to impoverish the population, the middle classes have left, it remains the poorest for whom it is more difficult to demonstrate, they are the easiest to repress.
Is it possible to estimate the number of doctors and professionals who have fled in total?
Between 2002 and today, there are tens of thousands, this must be between 25,000 and 30,000. And of course, even more if we count those of previous years, since the missions exist. In Brazil, for example, the Cuban government itself recognizes that more than 800 have remained. And officially, in the cables at the embassy, they recognized that there were 400 more who were there. So they recognize about 1300. But in fact, we know that they are about 2000, in Brazil alone. In Venezuela, they are even more numerous. And this concerns more than one hundred countries, so just for doctors, it is easy to talk about 20,000 people. If we add musicians, teachers, other professions, we will approach 30,000. These are the estimates we can make.
In Venezuela, Cubans are also present in the intelligence services, identification, the army … Do we know how much they are?
It is thought that there are tens of thousands of soldiers in Venezuela. In 2018, the Cuban government said there were 21,700 health professionals in Venezuela. They revealed it at the time of the referendum in Cuba saying that these 21,700 Venezuelan doctors had registered to vote. We made a report. If we add those who work in the military, the intelligence services, we can have between 50,000 and 100,000 people in all, from all professions, who can really interfere in this country.
Does the collapse of Venezuela have concrete effects in Cuba?
Of course, since it is a parasitic country, which has always lived on the hooks of others, so when a source of income dries up, it directly affects the population. Right now, there is nothing, absolutely nothing. Even those who have money can not buy anything. For example, I received a message from Santiago de Cuba, I am told that there is even more rice. But nothing will move in Cuba until Nicolás Maduro has fallen, since it is the source of income for the island. This could lead to an ideological weakening in the ranks of power, some of whose members would realize that they are in a dead end.