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Members of the Cuban medical brigade in Venezuela are detained by Cuban authorities in that country, after trying to escape to Colombia and abandon the official mission in which they worked.

The news was announced on his social networks by the spokesman for the Free Cuban Medical Association (GMCL), Dr. Miguel Ángel Ruano Sánchez, who assured that it is a group of about twenty Cuban health professionals.

“There are 17 medical collaborators imprisoned by the Cuban government and the state security organs in Venezuela in the Táchira state who intended to go to Colombia after having abandoned the Venezuela ‘medical mission’,” said the Bogotá-based physiatrist.

Among the detainees are “the head of the stomatologists of the CDI [Comprehensive Diagnostic Center] of Canaima, in the city of Valencia, Carabobo State” and her partner, who worked as a rehabilitator of the same medical mission, a source told CyberCuba. “They left and they were caught in Táchira,” she added.

Their names, revealed by the GMCL, are Marlén Milan Urruchaga and Luis Jorge Leyva Cruz. Both had been in Venezuela for more than four years. In addition, a third party was identified, Eddys Robert Milan Urruchaga who, due to the coincidence with the dentist’s surnames, could be related to her.

The doctors will be transferred to Cuba under Code Red. That means they are prisoners, without titles or any identification documentation and supposedly they will have to pay the State everything that was ‘invested’ in the mission for them: passport, accommodation, medical attention. , travel and after leaving the mission what remains pending for months of not fulfilling the ‘signed’ contract.

The physiatrist added that the doctors “have been threatened by the security forces that guard them” and announced that he will continue to publish more names of other detainees.

It is known that the aforementioned doctors were held by the Venezuelan National Guard, but that they have already been returned to Cuba, while another group that also tried to escape is currently in an underground detention center, incommunicado.

A person who claimed to be close to one of those revoked claimed to have spent days without knowing the whereabouts of her loved one and describes the situation as “a kidnapping”, which the Medical Brigade leadership disregarded.

According to the GMCL complaint, the collaborators could face jail time. When their absence was detected, adds Ruano, they were “circulated with name and surname at the border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia,” and once captured, “they are threatened with article 176.1 of the Penal Code of up to eight years in prison.”

The articles of the Cuban legislation to which the physiatrist refers is a faithful copy of article 135 of the Penal Code repealed this month that since 1986 penalizes the abandonment of labor functions as if it were a crime and not an administrative fault:

“1. The public official or employee in charge of fulfilling a mission in another country who abandons it or, having fulfilled this, or required at any time to return, expressly or tacitly refuses to do so, incurs a sanction of deprivation of freedom from three to eight years.

  1. The same sanction is incurred by the public official or employee who, on the occasion of fulfilling a mission abroad and against the express order of the Government, moves to another country.”

In retaliation, adds the physiatrist, the passports of the rest of the more than 20,000 Cuban collaborators in that country have been withdrawn to prevent them from escaping and the security and surveillance apparatus against doctors and health professionals in the medical brigade has been intensified. .

Another doctor who warned about the situation of the collaborators who tried to leave the mission in Venezuela was Dr. Alexander Raúl Pupo Casas, who was a victim of repression in Cuba and now follows the path of exile. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the doctor warned that his colleagues are in an underground prison and that “they are in serious danger.”

The human and labor rights violations of Cuban professionals in state missions abroad have been extensively documented and denounced by their own victims.
Recently, in the framework of an exhaustive examination of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Cuba, one of its members, Clarence Nelson, questioned the Cuban government about “doctors who are sent abroad and decide not to return to Cuba, who are prevented from return for a while” and for the complaints that “the government earns a lot of money for them and uses it for their own benefit,” added the expert, pointing out that these are “quite serious complaints.”

In addition to the possibility of facing prison and the prohibition to return to Cuba for at least eight years if they abandon the contract before the end, on top of the appropriation of doctors’ salaries by the State, there is the embargo on their degrees and the impossibility to interact intimately with the citizens of the country where they work.

Likewise, hundreds of health workers have denounced the surveillance and limitation of movement imposed in the missions, and the confiscation of their identity documents by the heads of the mission. All legally protected by the aforementioned Penal Code, resolution 168 of 2010 and other legal instruments such as decree laws 302 and 306 of 2012.

In March, collaborators of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Equatorial Guinea denounced that they had been working for more than 30 months without the right to vacations and under threat of expulsion from the mission if they made a public complaint.

It also emerged that four of them had died, between 2020 and 2021, and their bodies had not been repatriated either. All supposedly due to lack of flights.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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