Cuban Gov. Threatens “Its” Doctors with Family in Brazil

Cuban doctors leaving for Brazil.  Photo:
Cuban doctors leaving for Brazil. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – “The Cuban government threatened to take the diplomas away from its doctors working in Brazil who are accompanied by relatives that don’t return to the island, reported dpa news quoting “Folha de Sao Paulo” newspaper.

Representatives of the Cuban government told the Brazilian authorities that the measure is intended to prevent doctors from deserting and leaving their country permanently.

The root of the problem is apparently a gap in the rules governing the “More Doctors” program, flagship of the first government of President Dilma Rousseff, under which the Cuban doctors were contracted in an arrangement with the Cuban government and the Pan American Health Organization.

The program gives family members of the contracted doctors a visa to reside in Brazil for 36 months, but does not stipulate a time limit for visits.

This led some relatives of Cuban doctors visiting them in Brazil to stay for more than a month, which Havana considers a typical visit, and instead becoming temporary residents.

A case in point is one doctor working in the state of Sao Paulo, where she lives with her husband, employed in a factory, and her daughter, who is enrolled in school. She is scheduled to spend her vacation in April in Cuba, but fears that if her family does not accompany her the Cuban government will confiscate her diploma.

“We are increasingly cornered. I don’t want my daughter to return (to Cuba), but if I lose my diploma, I do not know what I’ll do,” she said.

According to “Folha”, another method used by Cuba to pressure the doctors into having their vacationing family members return home to the island is to ground them in Cuba when on vacation until the relatives return to the country.

“We have a colleague who works in Rondonia who went on vacation and her husband stayed (in Brazil). She had to be back in early March, but the government will not let her return until her husband returns to Cuba,” another Cuban doctor told the newspaper.

Asked about the matter, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said it cannot interfere in labor relations between the Cuban government and its doctors.

The source added that the matter is out of the Ministry’s reach because the doctors’ presence is a contractual relationship that Havana signed with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), regional organism of the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO) – which brokered between Cuba and Brasilia for the arrival of the doctors to Brazil.

The “More Doctors” program was initiated by President Rousseff in 2013 to cover the deficit of medical attention in vast regions of the country, especially in remote and inhospitable areas, where most Brazilian doctors refuse to work, notes dpa.

Currently, 11,429 of a total of 14,462 doctors (79 percent) working in More Doctors are Cubans, with a presence in 3,785 towns and cities of Brazil, mostly in regions where other foreign doctors declined to work.

8 thoughts on “Cuban Gov. Threatens “Its” Doctors with Family in Brazil

  • It is certainly fair that the Government would get a return on their investment. Perhaps the solution is a more equitable compensation model that increases with time served. From what I hear the concern of defections is over blown. The foreign service Doctors are patriots.

    Freedom to travel and be fairly compensated is all that is needed for the majority of Doctors to remain loyal.

  • Evil and nasty? That’s a tad harsh. The program simply allows Cuban Medical professionals to defect at US embassies. These Cubans have to want to leave their medical missions on their own volition. It is also incorrect and unfair to say US MD’s have not volunteered to help. The TRUTH is that American doctors were among the first foreigners to volunteer. Also keep in mind if an American doctor volunteers to fight Ebola, he takes a huge pay cut. When a Cuban MD is a part of a medical brigade, he increases his salary ten-fold. Not exactly “volunteer” work.

  • 90% of them do….that is the point of this evil, nasty US Dep of State program! What is amazing is that cuban doctors take risks in fighting ebola while US md hardly did…and like a MD firend of mine returned home proud of being a Cuban MD

  • The single largest revenue source to the Castro coffers is the sale of medical services abroad. It stands to reason that the Castros would spend money on their medical school. The US government offers no special financial benefits to Cuban MD other than the privilege of using US embassies to defect. Offering to pay talented artists and athletes high salaries is good ole’ supply and demand. Nothing is more American.

  • Not every doctor who leaves his mission does so to come to the US. Besides, unless the doctor wanted to leave in the first place, the US program would not work. By the way, Cuban doctors repay the cost of their medical education over a few short years given their low salaries and the relatively high billing rates their government pimps charge. Yet the Castros impose their indentured servitude for the Doctor’s entire life.

  • One reason that Cuba says a lot more about the U. S. than about Cuba is the fact that propagandists such as Moses Patterson, while hurling grenades at the island from their safe U. S. sanctuaries, never consider two sides of two-sided situations when Cuba is concerned. The Cuban government spends a large percentage of its economy on maintaining the largest medical school in the world and it awards free education to many students from other poor areas, including poor areas of the United States. The Guardian, the Washington Post and other unbiased media sources have reported that human traffickers repeatedly encourage defections from Cuban’s wealth of highly trained doctors, baseball stars and ballet performers, especially targeting Cuban medical personnel working in foreign countries. In addition to the financial motive, rich and powerful Cuban exiles employ the revenge motive to entice Cuban defections, with U. S. embassies in foreign nations being well known sources of much of that recruitment. Cuba has invested tons of its resources into training its highly prized doctors, ballet stars, and baseball players. A teenage Cuban, Yoan Moncada, recently got a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Boston Red Sox. But the Miami Ballet and many others in the U. S. have bonuses waiting for Cubans, and the Washington Post has reported on the standard bonus offers designed to entice Cuban doctors to defect. Therefore, it stands to reason that Cuba resents the well-heeled pressure from abroad to entice talent that it has spent a large percentage of its pesos to cultivate and train. That, Moses, is a fair appraisal of a two-sided conundrum. I am not pro-Cuba. I am pro-democracy and pro-American. I merely believe that democracy and America have suffered more than enough since 1959 from a Mafiosi-style Cuban policy designed to benefit a few and harm everyone else, which replicates the same attitude that Batista and Lansky employed in Cuba from 1952 till 1959. Perhaps that is why Batista and Lansky were chased back to South Florida on January 1, 1959. The decades-old twisting of the U. S. democracy in the endless quest to recapture the island continues to hurt America even more than it hurts Cuba.

  • If the US did not have a program pormoting and financing desertion this would have to happen. Contrary to the US, the education is paid by the state, just like when you get a scholarship you are required to do public service, but then, of course, if Cuba does it it’s wrong if US or funding agencies do it it’s ok? Hypocrites!

  • Brazil’s response to the Castros despicable tactics is cowardly. President Rouseff is so grateful to hire Cuban doctors at slave wages to meet the medical needs of her country that she is willing to ignore the pressure the Castros put on the doctors families. So much for altruism and the noble efforts of Cuban doctors. It’s about the $$$ and the Castros want to make as much of it as possible. Letting Cuban doctors emigrate hurts profits. That is what this is really about.

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