The one unambiguously good thing the gringos are doing in Venezuela


Looking through the Wikileaks cables, it strikes me that there is one unambiguously good thing the U.S. is doing in Venezuela: helping Cuban health professionals escape from the sprawling state-sponsored Human Trafficking scheme that is the Oil-for-Doctors deal.

Over 400 virtual slaves of the Castro regime have been freed with help from Valle Arriba. There’s much to argue about with the rest of U.S. policy towards our country and our region, but on this score all you can say is “thank God”.

Somehow, for some people, the part that sticks out about that story is…the cost to the Cuban treasury!

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  1. Everyone knows that some doctors escape to the U.S, and that the embassy helps them. To me, the surprise was the number. I still think the most interesting thing is that Cuba sees about 800 doctors, not 400, disappear and it reasonably sees the price as worthwhile. I will withhold compliments for the U.S. immigration system until everyone who wants to can at least visit the USA. And note that scores of Cubans have been rejected by the U.S. so I think “unambiguously good” is a bit extreme.

    • Sapitosetty,

      A bit naive to think that anyone who wants to should be allowed to visit ANY country, much less a country whose ability or willingness to get rid of illegals is practically nil.Right now it is a free for all, to its own detriment.The only way to limit the flow of illegal immigrants is to control the amount of tourist visas because once here anyone can stay over, as the deportations have been indefinitely suspended.

    • Of course Cuba sees the price as worthwhile. Probably, the government of Cuba assumes that most of them would run if given half a chance.

      The U.S. (and the European Union) immigration system is quite broken and has long been taken hostage to demagoguery. From the Right and the Left, I am afraid. So, instead of fixing it and actually reducing the incentives for going to the U.S. illegally, they harass, nay go quite close to molesting, visitors and students because there’s people overstaying visas.

      It’s, sadly analogous to the kinds of quite unreasonable searches and seizures and the cruel and unusual forms of punishment put in place once it was apparent that the War on Drugs was irretrievably lost.

      I share your opinion that the U.S. Federal government does not help Cubans escape their sorry condition because it wants them to. If it ever wanted to do it, a reasonable system for their emigration would be in place.

    • Loroferoz and Island Canuck,

      I do sometimes play Devil’s Advocate, but this was not my intention this time. I agree completely with what both of you responded. Island asked why this issue has not gotten more foreign press coverage. I was trying to explain that the issue isn’t so black and white, and that is why the press doesn’t jump on it.

      In order to make the case for this being slavery and not merely indentured servitude, you first have to make the argument that the Cuban doctors were already slaves. Now if we successfully do that, then we are faced with a moral quandary. If we posit that:

      1. Slavery is morally unacceptable and anyone existing in a state of slavery must be freed.

      That leads to:

      2. All free humans have a moral obligation to do everything in their power to liberate anyone living in a state of slavery.

      If, based on known facts, we conclude that:

      3. The Cuban Government has enslaved its citizens and is trafficking in humans.

      This leads us to the moral imperative that:

      4. All free humans must fight to liberate the Cubans from slavery.

      And since:

      5. It is not practical for private citizens to engage in such a fight against a sovereign government:

      It follows that:

      6. All free humans should demand that their elected governments wage war against Cuba to liberate the slaves.

      And THAT is why the press doesn’t cover it as aggressively as they might. As soon as we acknowledge slavery, we then have a moral obligation DO something about it. And since the press is not ready to face up to such a moral imperative with all of the obligations it implies, the press will not probe the issue very deeply. Ignorance is bliss.

  2. Virtual Slaves:

    These are not virtual slaves – they are real slaves with not rights to travel, can’t drive a car & when visiting anyone they must have a watcher (guard) go with them.

    It has always surprised me that this hasn’t gotten more press. It’s great ammunition.
    We discussed it a couple of months ago on MO’s blog but I haven’t heard anything more since.

    Slaves in 2010 – great story.

    • It would, if… we, and by “we” I mean most of society in the countries for which the message was intended,

      -Had convinced ourselves that slaves are slaves because of the lack of something they can call their own. Firstly, their persons, then the product of their own exertions and creation. Right to their persons, right to their property, the second is just as vital as the first, unless you believe that you can be all you can be stark naked.

      -Had convinced ourselves that individual rights are things that happen to individuals, and are denied to individuals. And had been self-taught to put ourselves in the place, in the skin and shoes of individuals in particular situations.

      Then, everyone would see that Cubans have no rights, and that they are slaves to their government.

    • Island,

      I agree with you in general, since, in this case, the doctors already existed in a state of semi-slavery.

      However, on a purely moral level, I believe that a legal adult has the right to indenture themselves. What would you consider military service, but a set period of indentured servitude to the State? Hell, most employment contracts have clauses that place some restrictions on the employee’s “liberty”.

      In the case of the Cuban doctors, the argument that can be made by the Cuban and Venezuelan governments is that the doctors voluntarily contracted their services and they agreed to the restrictions involved as a condition of their “employment”.

      The fact that this is not so black and white is why more has not been made of the situation.

    • There’s an answer to Roy’s argumentation:

      Theres is only one possible employer for the Cuban doctors. The Cuban State. This one employer has swept everybody else out of the board by force and terror, since 1959. Nice things, State, or coercitive monopolies, aren’t they? And there’s people to complain of natural monopolies and market dominance, curiously the same ones that see no wrong in having the State possess monopolies by arbitrary use of force.

      Then, the doctors have to ask permission of the Cuban State to leave Cuba for a limited period of time, on a mission for the former. Did I mention that their families are not to go with them?

      Then, the doctors are only paid into accounts in banks owned by the Cuban State in Cuban non-convertible currency. The accounts can be said also to belong more to the Cuban State than to the doctors.

      The doctors are about as “free” as a shanghaied peon in a ranch, paid in tokens used only in the ranch for the ranch’s store, kept by armed guards inside the ranch and forced to work at the ranch. Chain gang convicts are also a good analogy and blacks in Georgia before 1863 too.

      Maybe you can indenture or contract yourself if you are a free person first.

  3. If you talk to one of them, as I did, you will soon find out that they were forced to come to Venezuela where, once here, even the most common freedoms are denied them.

    In the case I refer to this doctor had a wife & kids that he was forced to leave behind. The only reason that he talked to me was that I was a Canadian &, I guess, he felt that I was no threat to his safety.

    The army in the US is volunteer – you sign up knowing what you are getting into. Many of these doctors have no choices and, because of this, are slaves.


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