14ymedio, Havana, December 13, 2018 — The last group of Cuban doctors working in Brazil in the Mais Médicos (More Doctors) program arrived Wednesday in Havana, where they were received at the bottom of the airplane steps by Raúl Castro and a group of high-ranking functionaries of the Communist Party and the Government, according to national television.
The last group of doctors coming from the South American country arrived on a Cubana de Aviación flight of the withdrawal operation of volunteers, but official media did not specify the number of passengers nor the total sum of public health workers who have returned to the Island.
The last count, publicized on December 9, placed the number of professionals who had returned to the country until that point at 5,853, out of a total of more than 8,300. However, since the publication of that information, the figure has not been updated again.
Among the arrivals this Wednesday, the doctor Lisbet Fuentes Vargas, from Las Tunas, thanked the Cuban Government for having allowed her to be in Brazil accompanied by her family members. “I had the privilege of having my son and my husband with me there for 3 months.”
Fuentes Vargas also thanks the authorities that allowed her to bring her family with her on the airplane arranged by the Ministry of Public Health since, she insisted, she wouldn’t have been able to do it on “a normal flight.”
This is the first time in which mention has been made of the presence in Brazil of family members of workers, one of the demands of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in order to keep Cubans in the program, in addition to them passing exams to revalidate their degrees in Brazil and collecting their salaries without the mediation of the Island’s Government.
In November the Government of Cuba announced its decision to withdraw its more than 8,300 health workers from the More Doctors program, in response to the intentions of the new Brazilian government to modify the conditions of the agreement. Cubans receive only 30% of their salary in Brazil and the rest goes to authorities in Havana, which Bolsonaro considered “inacceptable.”
Recently in Miami four Cuban doctors sued the Panamerican Health Organization (OPS), which they accuse of having facilitated the “network of human trafficking” and “slavery” that, they consider, was behind the More Doctors program in Brazil.
The More Doctors program was created in 2013 during the mandate of Brazil’s then-president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) with the objective of guaranteeing assistance in the most remote and humble regions of Brazil, now that Brazilians prefer to practice in large cities.
Translated by: Sheilagh Carey
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