Cuban Doctor Requests Political Asylum in Brazil

Ramona Matos Rodríguez. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — A Cuban doctor sent to Brazil as part of the Mas Medicos (“More Doctors”) government healthcare program has abandoned her place of work in the Amazonian state of Para and has approached the Brasilia Congress to request political asylum, DPA reported.

The 51-year-old Ramona Matos Rodriguez, one of the 7,400 Cuban medical professionals hired to provide health services in remote areas of Brazil, was brought before the press today by leaders of Brazil’s Democratas (DEM) opposition party, who received her when she approached the Legislature this past Tuesday.

In declarations for the press, Matos stated she arrived in Brazil at the end of last year and had been working in the Amazonian city of Pacaja since then. She decided to abandon the program after finding out the Cuban government was receiving 10,000 reales (some 4,166 US dollars) a month for her services.

The medical doctor affirmed she was receiving a mere $400 a month from the Cuban government and that an additional $600 dollars were being deposited in an account she would have access to upon her return to the island.

“I feel I was cheated by the Cuban government. They didn’t tell me Brazil would be paying 10,000 reales for the services of foreign medical doctors. They informed me I would receive $400 dollars here and $600 dollars there (in Cuba), after the termination of the agreement. I even thought it was a good salary, but I didn’t know the cost of living in Brazil was going to be so high,” she said.

The Cuban medical professional declared she left Pacaja last Saturday and that, this month, she decided to approach DEM leader Ronaldo Caiado at the party dispatch in the Lower Chamber to request political asylum.

The deputy for the opposition announced that his advisors are already drafting a formal asylum request that will be brought before Minister of Justice Jose Eduardo Cardozo tomorrow. He vowed that the Cuban doctor will be granted refuge at the DEM dispatch in Congress until the case is resolved.

The Mas Medicos program was launched by President Dilma Rousseff to address the shortage of physicians in poor and isolated cities around Brazil.

The arrival of Cuban health professionals was made possible by a three-party agreement between Brasilia, Havana and the Pan-American Health Organization (OPS).

Under this agreement, the Brazilian government transfers 10,000 reales (4,166 US dollars) to the OPS per Cuban doctor every month. The organization delivers most of this amount to the Cuban government which, in turn, pays its medical professionals.

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