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    Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports

    Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports
    ROBERTO ÁLVAREZ QUIÑONES | Los Ángeles | 24 de Abril de 2017 – 17:00 CEST.

    Once gain former Economy minister José Luis Rodríguez has attempted to
    pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Apparently the Castro dictatorship
    has called on him to do its dirty work and cook the books to present a
    more favorable picture of the regime’s administration.

    Rodríguez recently wrote, in Cubadebate, that the export of doctors,
    nurses and other health professionals brought in revenue amounting to an
    average of 11.543 billion dollars yearly between 2011 and 2015. False.
    As a source he drew upon the 2016 Statistical Yearbook on Health – which
    was so incomplete that it does not even mention how many health
    professionals work outside Cuba, the most important factor of all. The
    Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that there are about 50,000 in all.

    I think it is appropriate to note that last February Rodríguez announced
    that in 2016 Cuba paid its foreign creditors $5.299 billion, which is
    also false. And, in 2006, as Minister of the Economy, he said, with a
    straight face, that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cuba had grown
    12.5%, the greatest growth in the world, even surpassing China.

    This time the former Castroist higher-up – who today serves as an
    advisor at Cuba’s International Economy Research Center (CIEM), and at
    the aforementioned Yearbook of Public Health – is guilty of several more

    To begin with, in order for the medical services that Cuba exports to 62
    countries on four continents to have generated $11.543 billion, the
    average salary of each contracted Cuban professional would have to have
    been around $19,200 per month, which is impossible. His claim is even
    more far-fetched when said yearbook indicates that 35 countries paid for
    these services, and the other 27 paid nothing.

    The key to all this is that the regime lies. It calculates Venezuelan
    subsidies as a sale of medical services. Curiously, in his article
    Rodríguez did not include the year 2016, in which Caracas slashed its
    subsidies to the Island. Experts estimate that they have fallen by 40%,
    and that oil deliveries were reduced from 110,000 to 55,000 barrels a
    day, which would explain the current fuel crisis on the Island.

    Cuba now depends and will depend more and more of the flow of foreign
    currency coming from the “Empire” via remittances, packages and travel
    to the island, which in 2016 came to more than 7 billion dollars. That
    figure probably already equals or exceeds the subsidies from Venezuela,
    and triples the gross revenue generated by tourism.

    Moreover, even supposing that everything stated by the former minister
    were true, it is immoral for the Castroist leadership to openly proclaim
    that it steals salaries from doctors. That’s called trafficking. Those
    $11.543 billion belong to the doctors, who earned them with their work,
    and then saw them confiscated.

    According to the pact between the previous government of Brazil and
    Cuba, negotiated with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the
    Brazilian government pays Cuba $4,080 per month for each Cuban doctor.
    Of this amount, the physician receives less than 25%, that is, less than
    $1,000, according to doctors who have left Brazil, and complaints from
    the National Federation of Brazilian Doctors, which describes the
    contracts as “slave work.” For every Cuban doctor in Brazil, Castro
    pockets $3,000 a month.

    The figures do not add up

    There are now some 10,400 Cuban doctors and professionals in Brazil;
    that is, 20% of those it has abroad. Venezuela, meanwhile, has more than
    34,000 professionals, almost 70% of the total. That means that if the
    average salary obtained, based on the figure cited by Rodriguez, comes
    to $19,200 per month, and Brazil pays only $4,080 per doctor, then
    Venezuela pays several times that monthly amount for each Cuban
    professional, which is untrue.

    Moreover, the $11.543 billion reported surely include the more than $720
    million per year that Cuba was making by re-exporting gasoline from
    Venezuela, or refined in Cienfuegos with crude given away by Caracas. Is
    that not that a subsidy, like the one that was previously received from
    the USSR, when the Island re-exported Soviet oil?

    It is outrageous that the international community has not condemned the
    export of Cuban doctors, essentially working as slaves in the 21st
    century. Neither the International Labor Organization (ILO), nor any
    government in the world has censured this abusive practice. The UN
    Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Maria Grazia Gianmarinaro,
    just visited Havana, but apparently apparently was satisfied with the
    explanation provided by her hosts, masters of propaganda to protect the

    In Brazil, for example, Article 149 of the Penal Code states that “slave
    labor” exists when one is subjected to “forced labor, excessive shifts,
    and remuneration that is dramatically deficient relative to the work
    performed, justified by debts owed one’s employer.”

    But the governments of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff wanted to favor
    the Castros, and signed those shameful agreements. And the current
    government has done little to fight this abuse.

    Why no self-employed doctors?

    The truth is that more than a third of the 90,161 doctors of the Island,
    according to the yearbook, do not work in Cuba, but rather abroad, which
    affects medical services on the Island. The regime graduates them, en
    masse, to export and exploit them, as they are sent abroad for the
    selfish aim of confiscating their wages. They are reminiscent of the
    “talking instruments,” as Marco Terencio Varrón called slaves in
    classical Rome, 2,000 years ago.

    If the Castro hierarchy allowed university professionals to enjoy
    economic freedom, provide their services on their own, and doctors to
    have private practices, they would render a valuable public service,
    earn much more income, and not have to accept being exported as if they
    were owned by the State, or the Castro family, to receive meager
    remuneration, with which to make their lives and those of their families
    on the Island more bearable.

    Exported doctors have their freedom of movement restricted. They travel
    alone, without their families. Their passports are held, and they are
    enlisted in pro-Castro political campaigns with local populations, with
    which they cannot interact privately. The whole system is like a modern
    version of labor markets in the 18th and 19th centuries through which
    masters rented out their slaves to third parties for given periods.

    In short, the $11.543 billion cited by Rodríguez were not obtained just
    through the “exported services.” Rather, they mainly came from
    Venezuelan and Brazilian subsidies. And the money confiscated from
    doctors constitutes an international crime, which does not prescribe,
    and ought to be punished.

    Source: Theft and Subsidies, Not Exports | Diario de Cuba –