Seven Cuban doctors and a nurse sued Cuba, Venezuela and the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) for alleged conspiracy to force them to work in conditions of "modern slaves" in order to pay off the Cuban debt with the Venezuelan government for oil supply.
The defendants "intentionally and arbitrarily" held the health staff in "debt servitude" and the staff became "economic slaves" and "political advocates," according to the complaint filed in the United States, Efe reported.
The charges were made last Friday in a Federal Court in Miami by doctors Julio César Lubian, Ileana Mastrapa, Miguel Majfud, María del Carmen Milanés, Frank Vargas, as well as John Doe and Julio César Dieguez, and the nurse Osmani Rebeaux.
In the complaint, the leading defense attorney Arístides Cantón argued that the plaintiffs travelled to Venezuela in "deceit" and "threats," and were forced to work unlimited hours in a social welfare program known as "Mission Barrio Adentro," in areas with high rate of crime.
The news marked an ominous beginning, health-wise, of the year 2015: the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit at Hospital Clínico Universitario, one of the country's largest teaching hospitals, was to close completely on January 5 due to lack of medicines and surgical supplies. All patients who were waiting to be operated on were sent home. More than 10 patients waiting for surgery reportedly died there from lack of basic medical supplies in the two months prior to the closure.