The State Department is imposing visa restrictions under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(3)(C) on Cuban officials responsible for certain exploitative and coercive labor practices as part of Cuba’s overseas medical missions program. Profiting from the work of the Cuban doctors has been the decades-long practice of the Castros, and it continues today. These practices include requiring long work hours without rest, meager wages, unsafe housing, and restricted movement. The regime has also withheld passports and surveilled some doctors outside of work. In addition, the regime has also compelled some Cuban doctors to use medical care as a political tool by providing care in exchange for pledges of loyalty.
Any health program that coerces, endangers, and exploits its own practitioners is fundamentally flawed. We call on governments that currently engage with Cuba’s overseas medical programs to ensure safeguards against labor abuse and exploitation.