Thursday, January 11, 2018

Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the Obama White House, and politicizing human trafficking reports

Setting the record straight

The White House seeking to placate despots politicized the State Dept's trafficking report
 The Obama White House politicized the Trafficking in Persons Report of the State Department, undermining the credibility of the report, and months later on January 12, 2017 shut the door on Cuban refugees and migrants in third countries, victims of trafficking, for the Administration's political agenda.

This was part of an overall pattern, that began years earlier, of paying lip service to human rights but in practice marginalizing them to advance other interests.

President Obama closed the door on Cuban trafficking victims to appease Raul Castro
On July 27, 2015 reports appeared  that the U.S. State Department upgraded Cuba's status after 12 years from tier 3 to tier 2 in its Trafficking in Persons Report. Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) expressed concern:
“We are very surprised by this year’s report, which seems to be making blatantly political decisions that we consider will have a really detrimental impact on both the integrity of the report and progress in the global fight to end modern slavery."
Kimberly A. McCabe in her book "The Trafficking of Persons: National and International Responses" wrote the following on Cuba and human trafficking:
"Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced child labor and has been identified as a destination for sex tourism. Cuban adults and children are also trafficked for forced labor in commercial agriculture, such as tobacco farming. There are also reported cases of Cubans being trafficked to the United States for debt bondage. Cuba's thriving sex trade caters to thousands of tourists every year from Europe, Latin America, and North America and involves not only the young boys and girls who are victims of abuse but also the state-run hotel workers, cab drivers, and police officers who may identify the commercial sex areas for those interested in participating in sexual exploitation. There appears to be little in terms of governmental help or nongovernmental organization initiatives to end human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, in Cuba. Again because of the closed nature of the government, the prevalence of human trafficking is unknown."

According to Reuters on August 4, 2015, in the Special Report: State Department watered down human trafficking report by Jason Szep and Matt Spetalnick, it is even worse than initially imagined:
In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse. 
The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.
A Reuters examination, based on interviews with more than a dozen sources in Washington and foreign capitals, shows that the government office set up to independently grade global efforts to fight human trafficking was repeatedly overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured into inflating assessments of 14 strategically important countries in this year’s Trafficking in Persons report.
In all, analysts in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons - or J/TIP, as it’s known within the U.S. government — disagreed with U.S. diplomatic bureaus on ratings for 17 countries, the sources said. 
The analysts, who are specialists in assessing efforts to combat modern slavery - such as the illegal trade in humans for forced labor or prostitution - won only three of those disputes, the worst ratio in the 15-year history of the unit, according to the sources.
As a result, not only Malaysia, Cuba and China, but countries such as India, Uzbekistan and Mexico, wound up with better grades than the State Department’s human-rights experts wanted to give them, the sources said.
Senator Robert Menendez (D) of New Jersey gave a speech in October of 2015 on the Senate Floor concerning the trajectory of Cuba engagement policy that critiqued the White House's approach explaining that “in executing this new policy, the Obama Administration has spared no generosity towards the dictatorship in Cuba. ..." It upgraded Cuba in the trafficking-in-persons report despite its continued slave labor and human trafficking practices."

Yuriniesky Martínez with his dad, son, and on (right) how he was found in 2015
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 trafficked and exploited by the Castro regime in a $2.3 billion business
Consider that the regime in Cuba, according to sources friendly to the Castro dictatorship place the number of Cuban doctors sent on "international mission"at 31,000. Other Cubans, also working in "slave-like conditions" have been sent abroad to work and provide hard currency for the communist government. 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."

Months after President Obama ended the program that offered refuge in the United States to Cuban doctors in third countries, who could reach a U.S. embassy, to placate the Castro regime The New York Times offered a different view. On September 29, 2017 in an article titled "Cuban Doctors Revolt: ‘You Get Tired of Being a Slave’" with an introductory paragraph that indicted the Castro regime and reflected internal dissent among medical professionals the Obama Cuba legacy is forever tainted.
"In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a “form of slave labor.” Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island’s Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba’s most valuable export."
Closing the door on thousands of Cuban medical doctors and dooming them to be exploited by a military dictatorship, where regime elites get billions of dollars, was a decision taken by the outgoing Obama Administration on January 12, 2017. It is important to set the record straight on Human Trafficking Awareness Day and on the eve of this lamentable anniversary.

Closing the door on the victims of communism in Cuba

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