U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, both members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, teamed up to introduce the “Combating Trafficking of Cuban Doctors Act” this week.
“This new bill seeks to strengthen accountability for the Cuban regime’s documented human trafficking and exploitation of Cuban doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals through the so-called ‘foreign medical missions’. The legislation reaffirms the United States’ commitment to defending democratic values and human rights in Cuba, and re-establishes the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, suspended under the Obama administration, in order to allow eligible Cuban medical professionals, and their immediate family, to come to the United States,” Rubio’s office noted.
Menendez, the top Democrat on the committee, introduced the bill on Monday with Rubio as a cosponsor.
“I’m proud to join Senator Menendez in introducing this important bill, which highlights how these so-called missions violate the human rights of Cuban medical professionals and also re-establishes the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program suspended by the Obama administration,” Rubio said. “Through the diplomatic scam of foreign ‘medical missions’, the Cuban regime has perfected the art of state-sponsored human exploitation while illegally enriching themselves. The U.S. must stand in support of the Cuban medical professionals who are subjected to deplorable working conditions, confiscation of their legal forms of identification, and significantly reduced compensation.”
“Cuba’s medical missions abroad are not humanitarian, but in fact a calculated, coercive money-making scheme by a regime relying on indentured servitude to fill its coffers,” Menendez said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the selfless sacrifices and the global need for frontline workers, particularly doctors and nurses. But we all must recognize that garnishing the wages of Cuban medical professionals, withholding their passports, retaliating against their family members, and subjecting them to other forms of coercion represents nothing less than state-sponsored human trafficking. We are introducing this legislation out of a bipartisan commitment to hold the Cuban regime accountable for these abuses and offer protection to its victims here in the United States.”
Menendez’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. House.
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