Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — Havana Times has been publishing some very harsh criticisms of the agreement that will take four thousand Cuban doctors to Brazil. Considering the number of MDs and their monthly salaries, the agreement implies millions of dollars in revenues for Cuba in the course of a year.
In different comments, we read of “new slaves”, that the Cuban State is a kind of “foreman” and that Cuban doctors are “sheep” denied the right to demand their rights, individuals subjected to that which Jose Marti, when writing of a certain form of socialism much spoken of in his time, called “modern slavery.”
Unfortunately, I do not know how much money will be paid directly to the doctors under the agreement entered into with the pertinent agencies of Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health. Our local and biased press has not published this detail, and we will have to find out from the doctors themselves. I will comment, thus, on what I consider to be a conceptual problem of recent criticisms.
It is both just and necessary for the Cuban State to take in a reasonable part of the money paid by Brazil, in order to re-invest it in Cuba’s public health programs. This money represents investments in many areas, including the country’s educational system, capable of creating a highly qualified labor force.
It is also both just and necessary to respect the individual rights of our medical professionals, to pay them a percentage of the earnings that will guarantee their professional and personal dignity, as well as that of their families (without which they will not be able to practice their profession adequately).
What we need is transparency, on the basis of broader democratic, socialist concepts, throughout the selection, hiring and other processes related to the work of our professionals beyond Cuban borders.
If Cuban doctors working in Brazil, for instance, were entitled to openly discuss their payment conditions and to arrive at an agreement with public health authorities that isn’t simply imposed on them, then we would be wrong to speak of any kind of slavery.
What’s more, if these doctors could, in cooperation with other institutions, monitor the correct use of the State funds generated through their efforts and intelligence, then we would be unable to call them “sheep”, herded by the Cuban State.
From my point of view, this would be a way of moving towards an authentic form of socialism, something many of us in Cuba have been demanding for long time, a system whose foundations would be transparency and participative democracy.
All Cuban professionals are organized into unions and associations for every field. It would be good if these organizations could actually carry out the mission set down in their statutes.
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]