Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba are taking advantage of US border crisis: Blinken

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were singled out Monday by the U.S. State Department among the countries with the most severe forms of human trafficking, whose governments – they do not meet minimum standards and are not making sufficient efforts – to comply with the protection of victims of trafficking.

The three Latin American countries are at tier 3 of the Trafficking in Persons Report presented by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department headquarters in Washington.

Blinken detailed that the report is a comprehensive assessment – with the aim of identifying the state of the anti-trafficking efforts that are being made in 188 countries of the world, including the United States.

Around the planet, some 27 million people are exploited at work level, services or in a sexual way, through force, fraud and coercion, the report revealed.

The challenge of irregular migration

The U.S. government stressed that in the Western Hemisphere, there are common aspects of human trafficking. However, the greatest challenge remains unprecedented irregular – migration.

This report details that those seeking asylum outside their countries are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour by criminal groups and traffickers.

We call on all countries facing irregular immigration to prevent trafficking and prioritize the assessment of people, the document says.

In the case of Cuba, the U.S. government highlighted as concern a program of export of professional services in which, as detailed, the Cuban government sends “thousands of workers” to different countries around the world in exchange for economic gain.

Those affected include teachers, artists, athletes and coaches, as well as about 7,000 sailors, according to the State Department. By the end of 2023, more than 22,000 workers affiliated with the Cuban government were present in 53 countries.

In Nicaragua, according to the State, the government continued to minimize the severity of the problem of human trafficking in that country. Nor did he make efforts to identify and support victims of human trafficking, while Nicaraguans continue to be exploited abroad.

In Venezuela, on the other hand, the report highlighted that the United States does not recognize Maduro and his representatives as the Venezuelan government., however, he pointed out that the Venezuelan president took some steps – in favor of human trafficking such as sentencing two traffickers in prison time.

Despite this, the lack of public information and restrictions on the press in reporting anti-terrating efforts on people were complacent – with the problem.

Matturo and his representatives were complacent in trafficking crimes and maintained a permissive environment for armed groups, the report adds.

The Latin American countries with the best position in the report were Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

Recognize the work of Latin American women

The Human Trafficking in the World Report includes the recognition of several people considered heroes for their individual work in the fight against trafficking. This year, three Spanish-speaking women were included in this heroin list.

Marcela Martínez of Bolivia, Cuban Maria Welau and Spanish Rosa Cendón attended the event at the State Department, where Blinken highlighted her efforts as a key to achieving a rapid change to the present “obstacles.”

Don’t we need to be part of the government to do something (in the fight against human trafficking). Each from the place where he is located, he can contribute with his grain of sand to stop not only trafficking in persons but drug trafficking, Martinez told the Voice of America.

Martinez’s daughter Zarlet was kidnapped 12 years ago and her whereabouts are still unknown. The work of finding her daughter motivated her to create an early warning network to help activate the search for victims in Bolivia. The network now has 18,000 volunteers.

Martinez explained that in Bolivia, drug trafficking has become one of the main engines of human trafficking. “We see how across Bolivia they cross Chile’s borders and are taking many people for labor exploitation,” he told the VOA.

María Werlau, for her part, is co-founder and director of the organization Archivo Cuba, a non-profit expert group that defends human rights through information.

Werlau investigates, documents and denounces the exploitation and forced labour in Cuba’s labour export programme. The government gives it a lot of propaganda as if it were a humanitarian and altruistic project, when in reality it is a project that accrues the largest financial resources the country receives, he told the VOA.

Is it important to make these victims known to those victims, those people who are in those missions today and who have had the most terrible things that can be heard. “It’s an opportunity to make the world aware of what’s going on,” he said.

Finally, Rosa Cendón, social worker and educator of Barcelona, pointed out that Wednesday’s recognition – renews personal commitment in the fight against trafficking, sometimes it is very lonely.

Over the past two decades, the agency has honored 170 people as heroes of human trafficking from more than 90 countries. “Many of them have put their own safety at risk to support the victims and share their stories,” Blinken said.

This article has been translated after first appearing in El Mundo