Liberty Coalition Urges the U.S. Government to Step Up Measures To Combat Cuban Human Trafficking in Healthcare Workers

Alexandria, Virginia – A coalition of organizations including Cuba Archive, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and the Global Liberty Alliance sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week urging the administration to step up efforts to hold Cuba to account for human trafficking in healthcare workers. The letter is embedded at the end of this post.

“The Cuban regime uses medical missions to gain economic and political benefits and, in the process, to undermine U.S. interests throughout the region and beyond,” says the letter. “In Venezuela, Cuba’s medical “collaborators” have long been used as political weapons to export Cuban communism. Cuba’s medical missions have been expelled from Brazil, El Salvador, and, most recently, Ecuador and Bolivia owing to security and human rights issues.”

The Cuba Archive, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and the Global Liberty Alliance have teamed to help raise awareness of Cuba’s human trafficking in healthcare workers. Among other action items, during the next few months, the coalition will publish evidence of healthcare human trafficking and also hold traffickers to account in a variety of ways.

The coalition recommends the “U.S. government expand its use of economic sanctions and deny U.S. visas to foreign government officials or private sector stakeholders who are known to have been or are implicated in, or responsible for, the exploitation of Cuban medical workers.”

“Human trafficking in health workers by Cuba impacts well beyond the island gulag, hurting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests in the Western Hemisphere and beyond,” Jason Poblete, GLA Chief Counsel said. “We look forward to working with the Cuba Archive and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to expose this network and hold lawbreakers to account,” added Poblete.

The U.S. Blacklists High-Ranking Cuban Intelligence Official and His Family Members

Alexandria, Virginia – The U.S. Department of State announced this weekend that the U.S. government had imposed economic sanctions and visa restrictions on a high-ranking Cuban intelligence official and his family for gross violations of fundamental rights in Cuba and Venezuela.

“This is a good development and builds upon President Trump’s reorientation of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere. For decades the Communist Party, as well as senior Cuban government officials, have been given free pass by U.S. policymakers and allies in the region,” said Jason Poblete of the Global Liberty Alliance. “Access to the U.S. market is a privilege, not a right. Anyone who engages or facilitates gross violations of fundamental rights should be held to account. This designation is part of that process,” added Poblete.

The State Department November 16 notice states Mr. Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, Cuba’s Minister of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior (MININT), had been publicly designated under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement, by command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights. The designation can be done publicly or privately. In this case, it was done publicly, likely to send a message to senior Cuban regime officials.

Pursuant to U.S. laws, the Secretary of State can make these designations where the Secretary has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights (GVHR). When these individuals and their immediate family members are designated, they are deemed ineligible for entry into the United States. In addition to the public designation of Julio Cesar Gandarilla Bermejo, Secretary of State Pompeo publicly designated his children, Julio Cesar Gandarilla Sarmiento, and Alejandro Gandarilla Sarmiento.

The Global Liberty Alliance, in conjunction with several other human rights advocacy groups, urged the Trump administration earlier this year to publicly designate and impose economic sanctions on Cuba’s Office of Religious Affairs. You can read more about it here. In addition, for several years the Global Liberty Alliance has also recommended other designations of senior officials of the Communist Party and the Cuban government.

“Other governments in the Americas and beyond should support the Trump administration’s efforts to hold gross violators of fundamental rights to account. Spain, Canada, the European Union, indeed, any nation with close relations with Cuba should impose economic sanctions and deny visas to senior regime officials and their family members,” added Poblete.

Urgent Action (Cuba) – José Daniel Ferrer UNPACU

Alexandria, Virginia – For several weeks, the Communist government of Cuba and the party apparatus have ruthlessly targeted Cuban opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (“UNPACU”). Unlawfully detained on October 1, 2019, Mr. Ferrer has since been subjected to all forms of torture.

With the support of Mr. Ferrer’s family and a coalition that represents a large cross-section of Cuba’s opposition movement, the Global Liberty Alliance (“GLA”) requested that the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States press the Cuban government to adopt precautionary measures to protect the lives of Mr. Ferrer and his other UNPACU colleagues who have been unlawfully detained in Cuba for weeks.

Attached is the complete press release with supporting documentation.

U.S. Policy Makers Urge Trump Administration to Impose Additional Sanctions on Nicaraguan Officials

In a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin this week, House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires (D- New Jersey) urged the Trump administration to hold Nicaraguan officials accountable for acts of corruption and serious violations of human rights.

“The repression carried out against peaceful protestors in 2018 by security forces and affiliated groups under the direction of President Daniel Ortega resulted in over 300 deaths and 800 arbitrary detentions,” Chairman Sires said. Sires added that “[w]hile I appreciate the actions that your department has already taken, including designations of three officials that were announced today, I urge you to fully utilize the tools available under U.S. law,” and impose additional sanctions on other Nicaraguan officials.

For several years the Global Liberty Alliance has been tracking gross violations of fundamental rights in Nicaragua. The GLA has also met or talked with civil society leaders from Nicaragua, including family members and representatives of American citizens who have been targeted by the Ortega-Murillo regime. The GLA has also been urging U.S. policymakers to impose tougher sanctions, visa restrictions, and otherwise hold violators of fundamental rights to account for what they have done, and continue to do, to undermine regional security and U.S. national interests.

Since 2008 several Americans have been killed and/or tortured by agents of the Cuba-backed Ortega-Murillo regime.

Embedded in this post is a copy of Chairman Sires’s letter to Secretary Mnunuchin. Nic Letter 11-7-19 on Scribd:

ADN CUBA: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo urged to sanction Cuban officials for religious freedom crackdown

Por ADN Cuba el 02 Sep 2019 – 7:20pm

Philanthropists, evangelists and lawyers concerned about individual liberty in Cuba recently urged U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to issue new sanctions against regime officials whose job it is to suppress religious freedom on the Communist island. 

Continue reading ADN CUBA: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo urged to sanction Cuban officials for religious freedom crackdown

GLA Letter to ICT Industry Leaders on Alleged Weaponization of ICT Technology in Cuba

In response to a request from Cuban civil society and religious leaders a few weeks ago, the Global Liberty Alliance sent a letter of information to ICT industry leaders and U.S. policymakers to raise awareness about alleged weaponization of ICT tools in Cuba. The matter was brought to the Global Liberty Alliance’s attention by a human rights defender and former political prisoner, Mr. Jorge Luis García Pérez (known as “Antúnez”).

Continue reading GLA Letter to ICT Industry Leaders on Alleged Weaponization of ICT Technology in Cuba

UPDATE 21- Zakka Family Thanks Congress For Their Efforts

Statement on the Continued Unlawful Detention of Internet Freedom Advocate Nizar Zakka

Earlier today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee convened to markup H.R. 4744 – Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, which was passed by the Committee and now goes to the House Floor for a vote. The measure, if passed by the House, would impose additional sanctions with respect to serious human rights abuses of the Government of Iran, and on Iranian officials involved in hostage-taking of U.S. citizens and U.S. Legal Permanent Residents.

Continue reading UPDATE 21- Zakka Family Thanks Congress For Their Efforts

Authorities Ignore Potential Cancer Diagnosis For US Resident Nizar Zakka, Deny Him Medical Care

The following article was published by Center for Human Rights in Iran on February 7, 2018.

“Evin Prison officials are using medicine as a weapon”

Continue reading Authorities Ignore Potential Cancer Diagnosis For US Resident Nizar Zakka, Deny Him Medical Care

Son of Citizen Detained in Iran to Bassil: It’s Time to Act

The following editorial was published in The Daily Star on December 13, 2017. Written by the son of U.S. legal permanent resident and internet freedom advocate Nizar Zakka, it appeals to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for failing to act.

Continue reading Son of Citizen Detained in Iran to Bassil: It’s Time to Act

Nicaraguan Authorities May Be Abusing Legal Processes to Intimidate Opposition Leaders in Jalapa Nueva Segova

Last week attorneys with the Global Rule of Law and Liberty Legal Defense Fund (Fund) were contacted by Nicaraguan attorneys and civil society leaders about an incident of violence associated with local elections in the municipality of Jalapa of Nueva Segovia. You can read about the matter here.

According to local leaders who contacted the Fund, authorities are using the color of law “as a weapon to intimidate residents and finish consummating fraud in the recent municipal elections.”

Mr. Nelson Cortez, attorney for three of the ten civil society leaders being unlawfully detained or pursued by Nicaraguan officials issued a statement after judicial proceedings were allegedly postponed because of a power failure.

Fund Attorneys will continue to monitor the situation as well as support. Mr. Cortez and other members of the defense team.  Mr. Cortez’s video statement is embedded below: