SHOCKER! Cuba govt forcing medics to work in Uganda, vulnerable-US human trafficking report alleges


Having designated itself as the world’s ‘policeman’, the United States, seen as a “beacon to oppressed peoples everywhere” in the world, often  overtly and covertly carry out investigations in various countries around the world, and thereafter release their findings or reports on various issues: security, terror, health, democracy, human rights & governance, famine, name them.

And Uganda, being a ‘strategic’ ally, cannot elude this world policeman’s oversight.

It is in this spirit that the US’ Department of State recently released “2022 trafficking in Persons Report” on Uganda and makes shocking revelations.

The report upgrades Uganda to tier two in the fight against the crime after the GoU demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous years.

These efforts included investigating and prosecuting more trafficking crimes; convicting the most traffickers ever reported in a single year; and developing robust standardized operating procedures (SOPs) for law enforcement and increasing training for investigators and prosecutors.

More so, GoU officials increased use of the National Referral Guidelines for Management of Victims of Trafficking in Uganda (NRG), resulting in the government identifying more trafficking victims.

“For the first time in six years, the government reported directly assisting victims and referring victims to protection services. The government enacted new employment regulations to increase the ethical recruitment of Ugandan migrant workers; the government implemented these regulations by investigating and suspending more recruitment companies engaging in fraudulent and exploitative recruitment activities. The government allocated significantly more funds for anti-trafficking activities,” the report observes.


However, the US makes it clear that the GoU does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

That the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas like: access to adequate services for some victims, particularly adult males and individuals in rural areas, remained limited; and the lack of shelters in the country, both long-term and short-term, continued to adversely affect the government’s ability to adequately protect trafficking victims.

The report further points out that the absence of victim-witness protection policies hindered some investigations and prosecutions.

Additionally, some law enforcement officials lacked a victim-centered approach when working with victims, potentially discouraging them from participating in criminal proceedings.

“Government efforts to protect Ugandan trafficking victims exploited abroad, particularly among migrant workers, remained minimal,” the report further observes.


The US makes various recommendations in the report. It advises the GoU to make good use of the National Referral Guidelines for Management of Victims of Trafficking in Uganda (NRG).

That this can help to systematically and proactively identify trafficking victims by screening vulnerable populations.

Curiously, among these vulnerable populations, are Cuban medical professionals.

This implies that the US, maybe, has evidence that Cuban medics are currently deployed in Uganda.

“Using the NRG, systematically and proactively identify trafficking victims by screening vulnerable populations, such as refugees, asylum-seekers, individuals in commercial sex, children in the Karamoja region, and Cuban medical professionals, for trafficking indicators and refer all trafficking victims to appropriate services,” the report recommends.

The report further intriguingly alleges that the “Cuban medical professionals working in Uganda may have been forced to work by the Cuban government”, which violates human trafficking laws.

It should be noted that sometime back in 2017, the GoU through the ministry of health mulled a plan to bring in 200-2000 doctors from Cuba to solve manpower gaps in Uganda’s health sector. There has never been a confirmation whether they came or not.

The ministry of health and Cuban embassy have been contacted for a comment.

This is not surprising however given that the United States has been calling nations to stop using Cuba’s medical missions, which send doctors around the world, saying that Cuba refused to pay the medical staff and held them against their will.

Cuba’s international medical missions are a form of human trafficking and modern slavery, U.S. State Department officials believe.

The Caribbean island nation has a respected health service and generates major export earnings by sending more than 50,000 health workers to more than 60 countries.

But it came under criticism in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 called the Cuban doctors “slave labor” and Cuba recalled its 8,300 medical workers stationed there.

Ramona Matos, a Cuban doctor, said she worked with medical missions in Bolivia and Brazil where Cuban security agents took away the doctors’ passports and other identification.

“We were undocumented,” she said at the State Department’s news conference. “If anything happened to us, we got hurt, we died … nobody would know our identity.”

Nearly all of the doctors’ earnings were sent back to Cuba where they were frozen in accounts that they could not access until they completed their missions, she said.

“We were basically being trafficked, and we were victims and exploited by the Cuban government,” she said.

The State Department has been analyzing where Cuban missions are practicing, which is in at least 66 countries.

The U.S. government also is publicizing its criticisms of the Cuban medical missions so that host countries “can’t say they weren’t aware that this was human trafficking.”

Nations where the Cuban medical missions are working need to end the practice, says Carlos Trujillo, U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.

It however goes without mention that the United States and Cuba have had a strained relationship since Fidel Castro overthrew a U.S.-backed government more than sixty years ago.

U.S. diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Embassy in Havana, and there is a similar Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. The United States, however, continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, making it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba.

While Americans traveling to Cuba need to be aware of the restrictions that the U.S. government imposes – like hotels they’re not allowed to stay at, and restrictions on using debit cards on the island – Cuba is NOT off-limits to Americans.

On the other hand, on May 9, 2022, Uganda marked the 48th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Uganda and Cuba, whose relations have grown from strength to strength despite the difficult times in each country’s history.

The two governments have developed bilateral cooperation projects in many areas, including trade agreements, in order to contribute towards the economic and social achievements of both nations, which have enhanced our people-to-people relations.

Undoubtedly, the leading bilateral cooperation project has been the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, which started 33 years ago as an idea by the historical Cuban leader Fidel Castro and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and that has come to fruition with the training of Ugandan medical students.

At the same time, Cubans who have worked in Uganda have experienced professional and personal development which speaks to the important contribution made by Uganda.

In addition, the two countries have supported each other on international fora through the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77 and at the United Nations to defend and protect their strategic political and economic interests and partnerships.

In that scenario, Uganda has unconditionally supported the struggle of the Cuban people against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States.

The Governments and the People of both Uganda and Cuba have renewed their desire to consolidate, deepen and expand the bilateral cooperation existing between the two countries for the mutual benefit of both.

The highlight of that point is the decision to reopen the Embassy of Uganda in Havana and the current discussions to further enhance bilateral cooperation, in accordance with the principles governing South-South Cooperation and high level political relations.  A full report can be accessed here.

2022 Trafficking in Persons Report: Uganda



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