Category Archives: Slave doctors

Cuban health professionals who had been stranded in Colombia are allowed U.S. entry at MIA

The Miami Herald

Two dozen Cuban health professionals who deserted from medical missions abroad arrived in Miami Monday afternoon on a flight from Colombia.

The group is among professionals who were stranded in third countries following former President Barack Obama’s executive order that put an end to the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, known by the acronym CMPP.

“This is a triumph for the entire Cuban-American community, our organization and the offices of Cuban-American congress members who have worked to get these folks treated correctly and their applications satisfactorily answered,” said Julio César Alfonso, president of the organization Solidaridad Sin Fronteras, which is calling for the restoration of the program.

The group allowed entry at Miami International Airport had managed to get their CMPP paperwork in prior to the Jan. 12 cutoff.

Yerenia Cedeño, a 28-year-old Cuban doctor, characterized the mission to which she was assigned in Venezuela as “horrible.” She deserted five months after arriving — citing insecurity and precarious living conditions as reasons for abandoning the post — and fled to Colombia.

“You constantly heard about someone being robbed of their phone or another person being attacked on the bus,” Cedeño said, adding that returning to Cuba was not an option because she would be treated as an outcast.

Cuba has long exported health services abroad, either charging a fee or in exchange for goods. Medical professionals receive a small stipend while most of the revenue, amounting to billions of dollars, goes into government coffers. Some 50,000 Cuban professionals are currently dispersed to more than 60 countries, the government has reported.

For a decade, the CMPP granted the right to apply for expedited U.S. visas to Cuban doctors who could prove their nationality and that they were working as part of a Cuban government mission in a third country.

Havana has complained that the program was draining the island of professionals they had educated.

Cedeño said she felt exploited in Venezuela, where she shared her work with her husband, also a doctor, who accompanied her on the trip to the United States, but declined to give any statements.

Cedeño said her mission now is to get her 3-year-old daughter out of Guantánamo to join her in the United States and resume an education so she can practice her profession.

“I want to work as a doctor here, or something similar,” she said. “It’s the beginning of a new life.”

Dumping medicine, faking patients: Cuban doctors describe a system that breeds fraud

The Miami Herald

Since 2003, Cuba has been sending battalions of doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cash and crude.

The program, known as Barrio Adentro, offers free medical care to some of the nation’s poorest. It’s been credited with saving more than a million lives and is one of the pillars of the socialist revolution.

But according to health workers who have defected from the program, Barrio Adentro has been hollowed out by fraud. And they say they were under such intense pressure to hit quotas that they’ve been faking statistics for years.

As a dentist in the program, Thaymi Rodríguez said she was required to see 18 patients a day, but often only a handful would make their way to her clinic. Medical workers who didn’t hit their daily quota were threatened with having their pay docked, being transferred or, in extreme cases, being sent back to Cuba.

To make up for the patient shortfall, Rodríguez said she and her colleagues would routinely fake paperwork and reinforce the fiction by throwing out anesthesia, dental molds and other supplies.

“I worked for three and a half years as a dentist in Venezuela and it was horrible dealing with the statistics,” said Rodríguez, who defected from the program late last year and is in Colombia awaiting a U.S. visa. “I might see five patients a day but I had to say I’d seen 18, and then throw all that medicine away, because we simply had to.”

Trashing medicine in a country where it’s desperately needed was painful, doctors said. But if they were caught giving it away — or even worse, selling it — they would be kicked out of the mission and sent back to Cuba. And regular audits of their supplies meant they needed them to match their patient count.

Read More: Venezuelans, desperate for medicine, pour into Colombia

The claims are difficult to verify, and calls to Venezuela’s Ministry of Health seeking comment went unanswered. But the Miami Herald spoke to three different groups of health workers who had abandoned the program, and all told similar stories.

Continue reading Dumping medicine, faking patients: Cuban doctors describe a system that breeds fraud

Cuba’s ‘deserting’ doctors fear losing the American Dream amid policy shift

The Miami Herald

Bogotá, Colombia –

In a tiny house in a sprawling suburb of this capital city, a group of Cubans — all of them doctors, dentists and medical professionals — huddled around a television Friday watching Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, hoping he might shed some light on their future.

He didn’t.

“I can’t say we were surprised he didn’t say anything about Cuba. He has to defend U.S. interests first,” said Jorge Carlos Rodríguez, a 26-year-old ophthalmologist. “But we are hoping he does say something about us soon.”

When the Obama administration ended its controversial immigration policy for Cubans on Jan. 12, it left thousands stranded in South and Central America with no guarantee they’d be able to enter the United States. Among the elite group of would-be immigrants now in limbo: Cuba’s medical workers.

For a decade, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) program has given the island’s internacionalistas — doctors working abroad on behalf of the communist government — the right to apply for expedited U.S. visas. As a result, thousands of Cubans have deserted their “medical missions” in places like Venezuela and Brazil.

Cuba said the program was tantamount to stealing: robbing professionals that the cash-strapped island had educated.

But medical workers say the policy offered one of the few ways out of a system they described as indentured servitude — and they’re hoping that the incoming Trump administration will revive it.

Barrio Adentro

Rodríguez arrived in Venezuela on Nov. 2 to work in “Barrio Adentro,” the government’s signature program that uses Cuban doctors to provide free healthcare. His team, however, was immediately confronted with Venezuela’s economic chaos and paranoia.

“For the first 10 days that I was there, the only food I was given was boiled macaroni,” he said. “There was nothing else for us to eat even though we were all medical professionals.”

By the time he was sent to his “mission” in Lara state, he said officials had branded him a flight risk because he has a brother in the United States. Rodríguez said he feared he was going to be punished and sent back to Cuba so he decided to run, crossing the border into Colombia in mid-November to apply for the parole program.
Continue reading Cuba’s ‘deserting’ doctors fear losing the American Dream amid policy shift

When Obama dropped the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy, he also snuffed out another program few Americans knew about

Los Angeles Times

When President Obama killed the 22-year-old policy giving preferential, fast-track citizenship to Cubans who could make it to the U.S., his administration nixed another program, too. Not well known to most Americans, it sought to undermine the Cuban government through a form of brain drain.

The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, created in 2006 under then-President George W. Bush, aimed to lure away some of the tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and other medical workers the island nation dispatched around the world, in what the Castro government touted as Cuban Medical Internationalism.

The U.S. strategy was an appendix to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy created in the 1990s. Under “wet foot, dry foot,” Cubans who reached American soil on their own could stay in the U.S. But the medical parole program offered a path to American citizenship through any U.S. embassy and consulate abroad, according to a 2009 U.S. Department of State fact sheet.

“If you were a Cuban doctor and bumped into some guy from the U.S. Embassy in Johannesburg, South Africa, and told him you wanted to take advantage of the medical parole program, then you’d be taken to the embassy and eventually be flown to the U.S., get residency — citizenship — and a job,” said Al Fox, founder of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, which has advocated for the normalization of American-Cuban relations.

Fox, speaking Sunday from Tampa, said the medical parole program was pushed by hard-liner anti-Castro Cubans in Miami. He also said the program was a smear campaign meant to discredit any actual good Cuba’s medical community was doing abroad.

Since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, Cuba has sent medical workers to countries across the globe, mostly in Latin America and Africa, to gain allies and heighten its humanitarian profile. Those efforts, some subsidized by the United Nations’ World Health Organization, also became lucrative, according to Sebastian A. Arcos, associate director for the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University’s campus in Miami.

He said Cuba’s exportation of skilled medical workers has become one of the most important sources of revenue for the communist government, bringing in billions of dollars over time. Critics have denounced Cuba’s export of doctors, nurses and other medical professional as conscription.

“The Castro regime keeps 95% of the doctors’ salaries that are paid for, even by the WHO,” Arcos said. “Then these doctors and nurses work essentially under slave-labor wage conditions. In countries like Brazil and Venezuela, which have very friendly relations with Cuba, those countries pay Cuba directly, sometimes in oil, and often times medical staff working in those countries get nothing.”

When Cuban medical professionals arrive in another country, Arcos said, the Cuban embassy typically confiscates their passports in hopes of preventing them from fleeing.

Arcos’ sister, a doctor, was sent to Eritrea, a deeply isolated nation in the Horn of Africa run by a former-rebel-leader-turned dictator named Isaias Afwerki, accused of human rights abuses domestically and state-sponsored terrorism in the region.

Arcos’ sister fled Eritrea and entered the medical parole program in what he described as a highly coordinated and secretive plan. He did not wish to release details because it could put other medical workers around the world at risk, but said her escape was aided by people in Eritrea.

Obama scrapped the medical parole program and “wet foot, dry foot” policy Thursday, the latest step to normalize relations between the U.S. and its old Cold War adversary. The moves sent shock waves through many anti-Castro Cuban communities in Florida and beyond.

“He shouldn’t have gotten rid of that,” said Omar Lopez, human rights director with the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami. “It served as something comparable to America’s own Underground Railroad and now the doors are closed to doctors around the world working under those conditions. It’s a paradox. I could say it’s a criminal paradox.… That’s been a main priority of the Cuban government for years with the U.S. because Cuba needs to keep selling its doctors abroad.”

Arcos was critical of Obama, too.

“All this brouhaha over wet foot, dry foot is a smoke screen to hide the fact he eliminated the medical parole program — he didn’t have to do that,” Arcos said. “Now Obama has slammed the door shut for the entire Cuban medical community from escaping the Castro regime. The only reason President Obama eliminated the medical parole program was to appease Raul Castro.”

Lopez added, “It was a last-minute decision by the president, obviously, but we have to wait and see what happens.”


“Because President-elect Trump may erase President Obama’s decision,” Lopez said.

Obama final gift to Castro: Stop slave doctors from seeking political asylum in the US

On Thursday January 12, less than two weeks after thousands of Cuban soldiers marched in front of Cuban dictator Raúl Castro chanting: “Obama! Obama! With what fervor we’d like to confront your clumsiness, give you a cleansing with rebels and mortar, and make you a hat out of bullets to the head,” Obama handed Raúl his final gift just eight days before his presidential term ends. There is no doubt that Obama’s love affair with the Cuban dictator is only one way and unconditional.

At the same time that he signed an agreement with the Cuban regime to end the “wet foot dry foot” policy, Obama also eliminated the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which allowed slave doctors forced by the Cuban regime to serve in foreign lands seek political asylum in the United States.

For decades, the Castro brothers have sent thousands of doctors to serve in remote areas of Venezuela, Brazil and other countries, in exchange for hard currency. Those governments pay the slave traders in Havana directly and the Cuban dictatorship pay the slave doctors only a small portion of what they get and pocket the rest.

Thousands of slave Cuban doctors have fled the countries where they were sent and come to the US. They will not be able to do that anymore after Obama’s decision yesterday.

It is ironic that the US first Afro-American president is helping  Cuba’s slave traders to continue their shameful exploitation of Cuban professionals.

Lets hope that the upcoming administration will reverse Obama’s final gift to Raúl Castro.

What Dilma Rouseff’s Fall Means For Cuba



Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s suspension from office is bad news for newly trendy Cuba, which despite a detente with Washington is feeling the pinch from a downturn ravaging allies’ economies and political fortunes in South America and Africa.

Friends such as Venezuela, Brazil and Angola for years used revenue from a commodities boom to pay for Cuban medical and educational services, turning it into the communist-run island’s main source of hard currency.

President Raul Castro’s detente with the United States has helped drive up tourism to record highs but income from the influx of foreign visitors were only about one-third of the $7 billion from health and education exports in 2014.

Over the last 13 years, Brazil’s leftist governments also provided at least $1.75 billion in credit on favorable terms, drawing fire from opponents who are also angered by a program that put 11,400 Cuban doctors to work in Brazil.

Those projects will now be re-examined after Brazil’s Senate voted on Thursday to put Rousseffon trial for breaking budget laws. She is now suspended from office while the trial takes place in coming months, and a likely conviction would end her presidency.

“There will be a short-term review of our Cuba policy, because the money has run out and because there are some serious governance questions regarding the loans. Everything will be put on hold,” said a Brazilian diplomat who served in Havana.

Some of Brazil’s loans bankrolled a major expansion project at Cuba’s Mariel port with 25-year repayment periods and rates of between 4.4 percent to 6.9 percent, Brazilian data shows. Critics say the terms are too generous given Cuba’s poor credit history.

Support from a bloc of leftist governments in Latin America since the turn of the century helped Cuba get back on its feet after the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a massive economic crisis in the 1990s. Improving relations with the United States and Europe hold the promise of new revenue, but for now Cuba’s economy will suffer as the tide turns against allies.

Centrist politician Michel Temer took over as interim president in Brazil on Thursday. His government is not expected to send home the Cuban doctors working in Brazil since 2013-14 but it will not hire any more.

“Obviously there will be no more Cuban doctors coming here in the future, because this model of assistance is questionable and there won’t be support for it, but I doubt any Cubans doctors will be booted out,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Continue reading What Dilma Rouseff’s Fall Means For Cuba

Barack Obama Extols Cuba’s Slave-Labor Medical Care


Paul Roderick Gregory, a Forbes contributor, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Barack Obama, fresh from his historic opening to Cuba’s Castro brothers, was effusive in his praise of Cuba’s socialized health care system. Speaking to a town hall in Argentina, Obama gushed: “Medical care–the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to that of the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care. That’s a huge achievement. They should be congratulated.”

Obama has been equally emphatic in his condemnation of “barbaric” and “evil” slavery, which is “wrong in every sense.” In Havana, Obama empathized with the Cuban people that slavery left its negative imprint on “Cuba, [which], like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa.”

In the internet dictionary, slave labor is defined as “labor that is coerced and inadequately rewarded.” Coercion is the use of force to get people to do something they would not do otherwise. Inadequate reward means earning much less than the value that has been created. Karl Marx used the term surplus value to denote workers being paid considerably less than their value. Under Marxism, surplus value is the original sin of capitalist exploitation. Seems like the Castro brothers live off of surplus value too.

According to the definition, Cuba’s vaunted medical care system is built on slave labor. Cuban medical personnel are coerced by a dictatorial state and inadequately rewarded from the profit they generate (Marx’s surplus value), which accrues primarily to the Castro dictatorship. As pointed out by a Cuban doctor who served overseas before defecting: “We are the highest qualified slave-labor force in the world.”

The World Affairs Journal explains why Cuba’s health care professionals are coerced into slave labor by Cuba’s totalitarian state:

“With the state the sole employer, health professionals are forbidden from leaving the country without permission; issuing them proof of their medical studies and credentials is punishable by law. When they are sent on a foreign mission, they must leave their families behind as hostages to their return. With the average monthly salary of a doctor only around $25, barely guaranteeing subsistence, the system ensures a steady pool of temporary workers, ‘exportable commodities’ primed for exploitation.”

Continue reading Barack Obama Extols Cuba’s Slave-Labor Medical Care

Cuba Archive: Cuba’s state-run human trafficking business


 Ver versión en español abajo

Part I: Forced labor: the export services of temporary workers

“Contrary to fighting human trafficking, the government is likely “one of the largest and most profitable traffickers in the world.” This statement was part of the recent testimony in Congress[1] by Cuba Archive’s Executive Director, Maria Werlau, on Cuba’s gigantic human trafficking business.

A creative scheme of forced labor —temporary workers for export— accounts for Cuba’s largest, and growing, source of revenues. According to official reports, around 65,000 are serving the Cuban government in 91 countries; 75% (around 50,000) are in the health sector. The services of doctors, sports trainers, teachers, construction workers, entertainers, sailors, scientists, architects, engineers, and many other professionals and technicians are sold through large state entities, including two large health conglomerates (ServiMed-Servicios Médicos Cubanos, S.A. and the BioFarma Cuba group), and at least 84 smaller state entities (see Their wages, for the most part, go directly to the Cuban government, whose annual export services net of tourism grew from US$1.5 billion in 2003 to US$7.8 billon in 2011 (the latest official data from Cuba). Recent reports put the annual figure at around US$8.2 billion (three times tourism revenues reported at around $2.7 billion a year).

The violations to universally-recognized labor rights that this practice entails are numerous. Amply documented by Cuba Archive, they include chronic under-payment of wages, subsistence stipends, mandatory long hours, poor —often dangerous— living conditions, arbitrary restrictions of movement and others, retention of travel documents, and threats of retaliatory actions to the workers and their families if they defect overseas. This type of “modern slavery” violates many international agreements to which Cuba and most countries where these workers serve are parties, including conventions and protocols against human trafficking and of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Cuba’s export business of indentured workers and its unique brand of “health diplomacy” are possible only in a totalitarian state in which a pool of guaranteed captive low-paid workers can be exploited as “exportable commodities.” The average monthly salary is $20 and $60 for doctors.

Because many Cuban workers serve “willingly,” —even eagerly— to improve their lot, it is important to note that the victims’ consent to forced labor practices does not exempt them from “human trafficking.” The legal definition is clear: “The consent of the victim to the intended exploitation is irrelevant once it is demonstrated that deception, coercion, force or other prohibited means have been used.” The Trafficking in Persons Protocol of 2000, a complement to the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, states that abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation constitutes human trafficking.

See congressional hearing and written testimony HERE


El tráfico humano, un negocio del estado cubano

El estado cubano “es posiblemente el mayor y más rentable traficante de personas del mundo.” Con estas palabras testificó recientemente ante el Congreso de los Estados Unidos la directora ejecutiva del Archivo Cuba, Maria Werlau,[1] detallando como Cuba administra el gigantesco negocio de tráfico humano a través de numerosas entidades estatales.
Un creativo esquema de trabajo forzado de trabajadores temporales de exportación constituye el negocio más rentable de tráfico humano del gobierno cubano y se ha convertido en la mayor fuente de ingresos del país. Según informes oficiales, alrededor de 65,000 cubanos trabajan para el gobierno cubano en 91 países, 75% (aproximadamente 50,000) en el sector de la salud. Los servicios de médicos, entrenadores deportivos, maestros, obreros de la construcción, animadores, marineros, científicos, arquitectos, ingenieros, y muchos otros profesionales y técnicos son vendidos al exterior por entidades del estado que incluyen dos grandes conglomerados de salud (ServiMed-Servicios Médicos Cubanos S.A. y el grupo BioFarma Cuba) y al menos 84 entidades estatales más pequeñas (ver La mayor parte de sus salarios va directamente al gobierno cubano. La exportación anual de servicios, excluyendo el turismo, había crecido de US$1.5 mil millones en el 2003 a US$7.8 mil millones en el 2011, último año de
cifras oficiales. Según fuentes oficiales, dichos ingresos hoy llegan a $8.2 mil millones, lo que equivale a tres veces más que los ingresos anuales provenientes del turismo de alrededor de US$2.7 mil millones.

Las violaciones de derechos laborales universales que dicha práctica supone son numerosas y han sido ampliamente documentados por Archivo Cuba —incluyen salarios confiscados, míseros estipendios, largas jornadas de trabajo obligatorio, pobres y hasta peligrosas condiciones de vida, restricciones arbitrarias de movimiento y otras, retención de documentos de viaje y amenazas de represalia contra los trabajadores y sus familiares si desertan. Esta “esclavitud moderna” viola muchos acuerdos internacionales suscritos por Cuba y por la mayoría de los países donde laboran los trabajadores de exportación, incluyendo convenciones y protocolos contra la trata de personas y de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT).

El negocio de exportación de trabajadores al servicio del estado, incluyendo la renombrada “diplomacia médica” cubana, es posible sólo bajo un totalitarismo de estado, donde el universo de trabajadores cautivos y mal pagados puede ser explotado como un “producto de exportación.” El salario promedio mensual en Cuba es de unos US$20, y $60 para los médicos.

Ya que muchos cubanos se prestan para dichos trabajos “voluntariamente” o, incluso con entusiasmo, para mejorar sus condiciones de vida, es importante señalar que el consentimiento de las víctimas no exime al régimen castrista de su responsabilidad porque se tipifica igualmente como trata de personas. La definición legal contempla que “el consentimiento de las víctimas a la explotación es irrelevante una vez que quede demostrado el engaño, la coerción, el uso de la fuerza u otro medio ilícito empleado.” Asimismo, el Protocolo Contra la Trata de Personas de 2000, complementario a la Convención contra el Crimen Trasnacional Organizado, establece que ocurre tráfico humano cuando hay abuso de poder o de una situación de vulnerabilidad o a la concesión o recepción de pagos o beneficios para obtener el consentimiento de una persona que tenga autoridad sobre otra con fines de explotación.”

Ver la audiencia y el testimonio escrito, en inglés AQUI

Cuban regime doesn’t want their slave doctors to defect

The Castro regime has once again imposed travel restrictions to limit the number of slave doctors that can flee the island. Here is an article from the Associated Press:

Colombia Cuban Doctors

Presione aquí para leerlo En Español

Cuba Imposes Travel Permit for Doctors to Limit Brain Drain

The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it is re-imposing a hated travel permit requirement on many doctors, requiring them to get permission to leave the country in an attempt to counter a brain drain that it blames on the United States.

It is the first major retreat in Cuba’s policy of allowing unrestricted travel for its citizens, put in place in 2013 as President Raul Castro allowed new freedoms as part of a broad set of social and economic reforms.

The announcement set off waves of anger and worry among Cuban doctors and nurses, members of one of the country’s most respected and economically important professions. By midday, many Cuban doctors were trying to figure out whether quitting their jobs would free them of the travel limit.

“Instead of resolving the real problems of Cuban doctors, which is that salaries are low and we are working with limited resources, this measure shows that there’s no respect for the rights of citizens in Cuba,” said Dr. Eduardo Herrera, a surgeon at Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood.

The government announced on the front page of state media that health professionals in specialties that have been drained by large-scale emigration in recent years will now be required to get permission from Health Ministry officials in order to leave the country. The measure potentially affects one-tenth of the country’s work force, leaving very few families in Cuba untouched.

The Cuban government cites free, universal health care system as one of the crowning achievements of its socialist revolution. Medical missions abroad are one of the most important sources of foreign exchange for the Cuban government, which receives tens of thousands of dollars a year in cash or commodities for each doctor it sends overseas. Official statistics show that 500,000 of the country’s 5 million workers are health professionals.

The new policy was announced hours after a meeting Monday between U.S. and Cuban negotiators in Washington to address a crisis in Cuban migration, which has reached its highest levels in at least two decades this year. Cuba complained that the U.S. said it had no plans to change Cold War-era policies that give automatic legal residency to Cuban immigrants.

Like Herrera, many Cuban doctors cite low pay, poor working conditions and the possibility of well-compensated jobs in other countries as their primary reasons for emigrating. The Cuban government places the blame on the U.S. policy of granting automatic legal residency to Cuban immigrants, with special fast-track benefits for doctors who abandon government medical missions overseas.

The government has raised medical salaries in recent years, but few doctors earn more than $80 a month, a fraction of what they would earn in medicine in other countries, or even as drivers or waiters in Cuba’s booming tourist economy.

“The migration of Cuban health professionals is a concern for the country,” the government announcement read, blaming U.S. laws that aid Cuban medical emigration for having “the perverse objective of pushing Cuban health professionals to abandon their missions in other countries.”

Inside Cuba, many doctors and nurses complain that their profession has been devastated by waves of departures, with vital specialists now absent in many clinics and hospitals. The government announcement cited anaesthesiology, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology and neonatal care as among the specialties worst hit by emigration of doctors.

“The reaction to this will be big,” one neurosurgery resident said Tuesday morning. “We doctors are pretty much fed up because they aren’t managing our situation well.”

He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions from his supervisors.

Over the past two years, at least 100,000 Cubans have emigrated to the United States, the majority making a treacherous land journey from Ecuador through South and Central America and Mexico. The pace has quickened dramatically this year, with many Cubans fearing that the detente announced nearly a year ago between the United States and Cuba will mean the end to special migration privileges.

Left-leaning Latin American allies of Cuba began cracking down on Cuban migration last month. Nicaragua closed its border to Cuban migrants, leaving at least 3,000 trapped in emergency shelters in northern Costa Rica. And Ecuador last week imposed a visa requirement for Cuban travelers in an attempt to end its role as the starting point for most Cuban migration.

The Ecuadorean move set off two days of angry protests outside the country’s embassy in Havana, a highly unusual event in a country where the government unleashes swift crackdowns on unauthorized street demonstrations.