Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children is reported to be arriving in Cuba on April 10th to examine the "challenges Cuba faces in addressing trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation, as well as any other forms of trafficking." The last time that the Castro regime announced that it was going to permit a visit by the UN expert on torture was in 2009 and it got a lot of positive publicity but never followed through. However no one is reporting on this episode now, but harking back to a 2007 visit by Jean Ziegler, who was the the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food but what goes unmentioned is that Mr. Ziegler has a pattern of pandering to tyrants. He was one of the founders of the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights that in 1998 was awarded to Fidel Castro. UN Watch, the Geneva based UN watchdog summarized Jean Ziegler's support for serial human rights violators:
In 1986, Mr. Ziegler served as advisor to Ethiopian dictator Colonel Mengistu on a constitution instituting one-party rule. In 2002 he praised the Zimbabwean dictator, saying, “Mugabe has history and morality with him.” According to Le Monde, he paid visits to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. Mr. Ziegler is also a long-time supporter of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whose regime Mr. Ziegler hailed during an official visit in October , while he refused to meet Cuban dissidents. Also this year, during an interview in Lebanon, Mr. Ziegler said, “I refuse to describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
This is not the profile of a fair minded human rights expert. Let us hope that Ms. Giammarinaro does a better job in Cuba and at least meets with dissidents to get another view beyond the official line by the dictatorship. Something the last "independent expert" Mr. Ziegler refused to do.
Human trafficking in Cuba is an ongoing problem that the Obama State Department sought to downplay in its 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report reclassifying the island from Tier 3 to Tier 2 watch list and human rights experts at the State Department denounced its politicization at the time observing that there had been no improvement to justify the move. Nevertheless the Associated Press has once again gone a step further in fake news on Cuba by reporting that the United States "removed Cuba from a blacklist of countries that have failed to combat modern-day slavery after both countries formally restored diplomatic relations in July 2015." This is not true and Cuba remains on the blacklist on Tier 2.
The Obama State Department's last TIP report (2016) despite trying to minimize the Cuban governments involvement in human trafficking affirmed that "Cuba is a source and destination country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Child sex trafficking and child sex tourism occur within Cuba." Furthermore reported on how the Castro regime "uses some high school students in rural areas to harvest crops and does not pay them for their work but claims this work is not coerced."
Not mentioned in either the 2015 or 2016 TIP reports are the killings of fleeing refugees in December of 2014 and April of 2015. On December 16, 2014 the Cuban coastguard ram and sank a boat with 32 refugees, one of them, Diosbel Díaz Bioto, was killed. Yuriniesky Martínez Reina (age 28) was shot in the back and killed by state security chief Miguel Angel Río Seco Rodríguez in the Martí municipality of Matanzas, Cuba on April 9, 2015 for peacefully trying to leave Cuba. A group of young men were building a boat near Menéndez beach to flee the island, when they were spotted trying to leave and were shot at.
The 2016 report downplays the claims made by Cuban doctors that "Cuban officials force or coerce participation in the program" by giving credence to the Cuban government's claim that "the program is voluntary and well paid compared to jobs within Cuba."
Cuban doctors in Cuba make approximately $25 dollars a month in salary. In 2008 The Miami Herald reported that "more than 31,000 Cuban health workers -- most of them doctors -- who toil in 71 countries brought in $2.3 billion last year, ..., more than any other industry, including tourism. Most of them are paid $150 to $375 a month, a small percentage of the cash or trade benefits the Cuban government pockets in exchange for their work."
The Castro regime has exploited other Cubans in overseas work. The 2006 case of Cuban workers forced to work 112 hours a week for 3 cents an hour in Curaçao made the news. The workers had been unpaid; instead their compensation was deducted from Cuba’s debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. Three workers sued the company accusing "Curaçao Drydock Company of subjecting them to forced labour in a lawsuit in US federal court under the Alien Tort Claims Act and other laws. They alleged that the company conspired with the Cuban Government to traffic them and other workers to Curaçao to work for Curaçao Drydock Company as part of a forced labour programme."
I look forward to reading Ms. Giammarinaro's report with great interest, but won't be following it in the Associated Press because too often to keep their bureau open in Cuba they get the news wrong. Reuters, The Miami Herald, and others although not perfect do a better job. Nevertheless they all failed to mention the last special rapporteur's support for dictators, the failure to follow through on the 2009 invite of the UN special rapporteur on torture and Cuba's terrible record on human trafficking. Nevertheless the Associated Press remained the worse of the worse in their reporting.