14ymedio, Havana, 27 September 2019 — In New York this Thursday, a group of Cuban doctors denounced that the Government of Havana forced them to falsify the statistics of patients treated and destroy the leftover medicines that they had falsely prescribed (to non-existent patients) to fake the delivery of more healthcare than what was actually provided, among many other irregularities.
Tatiana Carballo, Ramona Matos, Russela Rivero and Fidel Cruz, who have worked in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil and Belize and now live in the US hosted by the American Cuban Medical Parole program, revealed details of the medical missions in which they participated in a press conference organized by the US State Department in New York.
According to professionals, in Venezuela they had orders to tell their patients that medical care and its products would be lost if they did not vote for Chavismo, thus presssuring their vote.
“Since we arrived in Venezuela we were under a military regime, we were forbidden to leave the nation or have relationships with Venezuelans,” said Carballo, who said that work was very complicated because of the stress that constant harassment led to.
Fidel Cruz, who worked in the South American country between 2011 and 2014, confirmed his colleague’s version and the election pressures.
“We were obliged in each consultation to speak to each patient to influence their mentality to vote in favor of Maduro.” According to his testimony, Cruz had to go out to campaign door to door to encourage voters. “Remember that I am here today providing you healthcare thanks to the Government of Maduro,” they should say.
“We had to give statistics to our chiefs of State Security regarding how many patients we took to the polling stations and how many voted for the ruling party,” he added.
Ramona Matos, who worked in Bolivia and Brazil, explained that during the time he was in the Andean country he was deprived of his documents. “When we arrived at Immigration, a security agent seized our passports. We were working in Bolivia without documents; we had no papers with our names. If something happened to us, if we were kidnapped or died, nobody would know who we were,” he said.
Matos denounced that they were never informed of how they were going to work in Bolivia. “The conditions were never explained to us. Being a country in the Altiplano, the high plane, doctors who traveled on the mission died from cardiac complications, due to atmospheric conditions,” he said.
The heads of the mission, who were not physically in the town (San Agustín, in the Amazon) demanded a daily clinic in which at least 30 patients should be seen. “Nobody came to the clinic. I asked the colleague who was there before what she did and she said: ‘You are going to find out’,” said the doctor.
According to Martos, the chiefs told him that if he did not see the required numbers of patients, he would be returned to Cuba and without receiving his salary, so he began to write false names, ages and addresses. In order for the data to match with the prescribed medications, they were destroyed, burned or buried.
Tatiana Carballo, who spent seven years on the mission, explained that the Cuban government insists that, since education is totally free, then they must serve almost as slave labor.
“Since we graduated we have received very, very low salaries, and then we go on the ’medical missions’.” Carballo was in Belize rather than in Venezuela after signing a document that “was not a contract,” in a supposed “voluntary and humanitarian” task although, she emphasizes, it was not.
“We were paid 10% or 15% of what Venezuela paid to Cuba, and the rest stayed in a frozen account in Cuba. Many of us decided not to return and that money was confiscated by the Government, it was not given to our families,” Carballo explained.
Then she went to Brazil, where she received “1,200 reales depending on the value of the dollar.” The expenses for rent, food and supplies were paid by the local government of Brazil. According to Carballo, this mission had special characteristics, because it allowed the Cuban healthcare workers to have their families with them and facilitated the necessary visas.
On a trip to Cuba, on vacation, she was told that she should sign a document whereby her son had to go to the Island every three months, with her paying the expenses. “I decided to leave him in Brazil, hidden at home,” said the doctor. “I got tired of slavery, of being besieged and taking away my passport and of lying. That’s why I decided to participate in the Cuban Medical Parole program and today I’m here telling you my story,” she concluded.
In the case of Russela Rivero, her two children are doctors and are suffering the consequences of her ‘desertion’. The elder has been banned from practicing medicine and is now a fumigator in a technical brigade. “They said ’you know what it is about’.”
As for the younger, he graduated last August and was sent to a rural town in the Sierra Maestra while his colleagues were located in the city. “There is no explanation, you just have to do it,” they said, according to his mother, who says they are using her children to silence her but they will not succeed.
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