Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) is demanding accountability from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) for their possible role in facilitating the trafficking of Cuban doctors in cooperation with the island's Communist regime.
Reuters notes that four doctors under Cuba's Mais Medicos program were forced to work in Brazil through PAHO between 2013 and 2018. Additionally, their wages were largely confiscated by the Cuban government while the Pan-American Health Organization kept a small amount for themselves.
The four doctors filed their lawsuit in 2018 in South Florida before the case transferred to Washington, D.C. in 2020. Rep. Salazar's letter notes that PAHO has since tried "to drag the case out endlessly by both preventing full disclosure of its conduct, and also consistently delaying and denying the doctors whose wages were confiscated by PAHO and Cuba their day in court."
Specifically, PAHO sought to appeal by arguing they did not profit from the endeavor, which the appellate court struck down. Next, their argument was that they were immune because the funds put towards the operation were paid in Brazil to Cuba without using their U.S.-based bank accounts.
Such attempts by PAHO to delay their case only become more egregious since Cuba's international medical program has faced accusations by the U.S. of being a form of human trafficking since 2019.
These four were not the only ones, as Rep. Salazar's letter notes that over 10,000 Cuban medical professionals were sent to Brazil "in violation of Brazilian, U.S., and international law."
In a statement, Rep. Salazar said, "The evil Castro regime regularly profits off the backs of thousands of Cuban doctors every year, and international organizations should be focused on stopping this abuse, not aiding it. The American people should not be enabling repressive communist regimes abroad through their taxpayer contributions to international organizations."
This letter comes hot on the heels of Salazar's introduction of a bill providing greater funding to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which would help countries in the region "oppose the malign influence of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in the region."