The Situation Faced by Cuban Doctors in Brazil

By Vicente Antonio de Castro*

Cuban doctors in Brasil. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – On account of the Latin American Left supporting the disastrous Chavista project, another country is turning to the Right and fleeing from socialist “benevolence”… I’m talking about Brazil.

Over 8,000 Cubans working in this country have received news that the man who will surely become the next president, Jair Bolsonaro, says he will stop funding the Mais Medicos program, a federal program which hires local and foreign professionals to work in places where doctor:inhabitant ratios are much lower than the Brazilian average of 2 doctors per 1000 inhabitants.

An angry Cuban journalist pointed out: “if Cubans leave, will Brazilian doctors go to these poor places? I doubt it.”

With this “I doubt it”, the journalist meant to say something like Cuban doctors are better people than Brazilian doctors, ergo, the Cuban system is better than the Brazilian one.

If we start off with the premise that Cubans aren’t any better or worse than anyone else, you might ask yourself why doctors here are working in parts of Brazil where Brazilians don’t go and the answer to that question is very simple and has nothing to do with solidarity or humanist efforts: in simple terms, they are paid there and they aren’t paid here.

Even though the Cuban government has repeated to death that Cuba is the most supportive country in the world, it’s a well-known fact that this “solidarity” is the Cuban State’s largest business, and that if we add this to what they receive in family remittances, we can conclude that after 60 years of Socialism, the most profitable business for Cuba’s leaders has been to send Cubans to work abroad, by hook or by crook, with capitalists if possible.

This program has created tensions between both countries precisely because of how much the Cuban government will lose with this cut. In the beginning, it was over 60% of doctors’ wages before tax, some sources say that it was 75%, which was then reduced to “just” 40% after a court ruling forced the Brazilian government to defend Cuban doctors’ wages, which is ironic because Cuban labor unions have never spoken out against these working conditions (or anything else that puts the government at unease).

Even though they are given priority, Brazilian doctors aren’t very interested in selling their services for the program’s salary and so they only account for 6% of the placements offered. To the contrary, Cuban doctors are crazy about going to Brazil, even when they know that they will be overexploited by their own government, because they will receive a comparative fortune there compared to the 50 USD they receive per month on the island.

Insinuating that Cuban doctors are “better” than Brazilians is just another piece of nonsense fabricated by Communist propaganda. In fact, what they really are, which can be proven, is a lot poorer.

Thus, the reason why they go to poor areas in Brazil and Brazilians don’t doesn’t lie in the Cuban people’s “better humanity”. The explanation lies in the obscene differences that exist within Brazilian capitalism, where there are very poor areas and very rich areas, and in the sad homogeneity of Cuban socialism, where we are all extremely poor, excluding the government and its high-ranking military officials who own the island and its inhabitants, of course.

*Guest writer