Exclusive: U.S. Poised to Upgrade Cuba in Annual Human Trafficking Report

Exclusive: U.S. Poised to Upgrade Cuba in Annual Human Trafficking Report

A classic American car passes in front of some signs that reads in Spanish "Long Live Free Cuba" in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Six months ago Wednesday, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro stunned the world by announcing an end to their nations’ half-century of official hostility. In Cuba, aging leaders fear swift, uncontrolled change that would cost them power and spawn disorder in a country that dreads the violence and inequality scarring its neighbors. That fear is heightened by the United States’ long history of trying to topple Castro and his brother Fidel. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A classic American car passes in front of some signs that reads in Spanish “Long Live Free Cuba” in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

(Reuters) – The United States is set to remove Cuba from the bottom tier on its list of worst human trafficking centers, U.S. sources said, in what will be another step in the historic rapprochement between the former Cold War foes.

The upgrade would lift Cuba to the so-called “Tier 2 Watch List” from Tier 3, where it has languished for 12 years due to allegations of sex trafficking and what U.S. authorities have previously described as “coerced labor with Cuban government work missions abroad.”

The upgrade was contained in a draft report that could be modified by the time of publication, expected this month, said a Congressional aide with knowledge of the report. A second source confirmed the upgrade. The sources requested anonymity.

They attributed the upgrade to better cooperation between Washington and Havana on human trafficking issues and better treatment of victims, but they declined to provide specifics before the State Department publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons report.

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