Maria Elvira Salazar: Mexico Needs to Stop Relying on Cuban Doctors Which Violates USMCA

U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., continues to sound the alarm on Mexico’s reliance on doctors from Cuba, insisting that it is a “violation of human rights clauses within the United States Mexico Canada (USMCA) trade agreement.”

Salazar recently held a media event at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami, where she was joined by Deputy Mariana Gómez del Campo and Senator José Alfredo Botello Montes, two elected Mexican officials.

“If Mexico continues to use trafficked Cuban doctors, they are jeopardizing their participation in the USMCA and putting Mexico’s economy at risk,” the congresswoman’s office insisted.

“Cuba is making a lot of money,” said Salazar. “Doctors are being swindled, exploited, and trafficked. Mexico is getting cheap labor. The Mexican government is exploiting Cuba’s most valuable good, their human capital. They are funding the Cuban dictatorship and ignoring international conventions, human, and labor rights. The Mexican president recently expressed that conservatives who have a problem with using Cuban doctors can go to hell. And my answer to President Lopez Obrador is that he will be the only one who is going to hell for siding with evil forces and being an accomplice to human misery.”

“We stand in solidarity with the exiled Cuban community and all of those who have had to abandon their countries because of a totalitarian regime that oppresses them, that keeps them in inhumane conditions and involve themselves in human trafficking,” said Gómez del Campo. “We are not tired of lifting our voices, we are not tired of sending letters, documentation, whatever is necessary so that all of Mexico knows what is happening with these so-called health brigades, who in the end do everything except deal with health issues. We cannot permit, I insist, that we keep fomenting in this manner modern slavery, human trafficking, and keeping silent; we will be here as many times as necessary to lift our voices.”

“We are against, as of now, these missions, principally for the issues that are implicated of not having respect to the dignity of a person, and not respecting Cuban doctors,” said Montes.

The congresswoman’s office offered her case why Mexico should stop relying on Cuban doctors.
“The historic USMCA Trade Agreement is the gold standard among trade deals and has strong provisions to uphold labor standards and human rights. The United States government has officially recognized Cuba’s international medical missions as grave human rights abuses and a form of modern-day slavery. The U.S. State Department included the Cuba medical missions in their recent ‘2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.’ Mexico is in violation of USMCA’s labor standards since Chapter 23 explicitly prohibits signatories from engaging in “forced labor and human trafficking,” the congresswoman’s office noted. “Mexico is engaging in international human trafficking by using Cuban doctors that are forced to go on medical missions. Cuban doctors have their wages stolen by the regime, are forced to sign contracts against their will, and their families are in danger of reprisal if they do not comply. The profits from these medical missions go back to the Cuban regime and are used to further oppress the Cuban people.”

At the end of April, Salazar paired up with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., on a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade and Labor Affairs calling for an investigation into possible violations of the USMCA by Mexico due to their use of foreign medical personnel from Cuba.

Over the past two years, Rubio and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, both members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have been working on the“Combating Trafficking of Cuban Doctors Act.”

The 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 when the legislation was first introduced.

Kevin Derby
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