Bolivian Running The Cuban Medical Programme Arrested On Corruption Charges

Carlos de la Rocha was the national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales` government health programme (Red Uno)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, January 9th 2020 – The Attorney General of Bolivia arrested Carlos de la Rocha, who was national coordinator of ex-President Evo Morales´ government health programme, and accused him of corruption,  for alleged “anti-economic” activity, failure to complete duties, and aggravated robbery, as reported in the country´s press.

De la Rocha, a Bolivian national, and doctor by profession, rejects the charges and insists that there are documents which prove he did everything in a legal manner. “I am innocent of all wrongdoing, we always managed the programme and its resources with total transparency. You can see that by examining all the documentation in the Ministry of Health”, the ex-official told the press before being taken off to a detention centre.

The ex-official had made a declaration to the Attorney General, following a summons from that office to clarify what happened to the millions of dollars used by the previous government to finance the Cubans in Bolivia.

According to his lawyer, Luis Velasco, De la Rocha did what he was supposed to do: “He was appointed by memorandum as coordinator of this programme, he proceeded to administer and manage the funds by way of the approved budget”, he told Eju TV channel.

The Medical College of Bolivia requested an investigation into the funding provided by the government of Evo Morales, an ally of Cuba, for the contracting of doctors from the island. Havana withdrew more than 700 “cooperating aid workers” from the country, following Evo Morales` exit last November.

A little before that, the government in Ecuador had decided to put an end to the presence of Cuban doctors in the public health system, and, a year earlier, following the electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro, Cuba had withdrawn 8,300 doctors who were working in remote parts of Brazil.

“We are discovering the indiscriminate use of government resources, the misuse of public money deposited in private accounts for, supposedly, paying Cubans, when those funds should have been in a fiscal account”, stated the President of the Medical College of La Paz, Luis Larrea.

Larrea accused the Cuban doctors of inflating the statistics of patients treated, and discarding drugs paid for by the Bolivian budget in order to increase purchases of drugs, by the previous government, from the island. He also asserted that Morales discriminated against Bolivian doctors, many of whom were unemployed, while he contracted foreign personnel.

The Bolivian Minister of Health, Aníbal Cruz, revealed that only 205 out of the 702 Cubans stationed in Bolivia had qualifications as doctors. After reviewing the contract papers of the Cuban functionaries, the Jeanine Añez interim government President determined that the majority were technicians or chauffeurs. Nevertheless, they were all charged as doctors.

In over 13 years in government, Evo Morales never revealed the cost of the Cuban squads to the Bolivian treasury.

Cuba’s principal source of income is the sale of medical services. International agencies have criticised Havana for the doctors´employment conditions, under which they receive 25% of what the foreign governments pay for them.

“We don´t have true and complete information about the salaries of the Cuban mission, but what we do know is that the money came from the Health Ministry. They paid $1,040 monthly for each of them.” said the new Minister, Aníbal Cruz.

From its preliminary database, the Ministry of Health calculates that its country paid Cuba $69.4m for the Cuban missions, without taking into account the eye operations promoted by the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, which were also carried out by Cuban doctors.

Roxana Lizarraga Vega, Minister of Communications of the Interim Government, said that at least 100 of the Cubans who came to Bolivia as part of the medical teams were in fact intelligence agents.

The La Paz police entered three Cuban medical team “safe houses”, where they found electrical circuits, security cameras, a hidden safe room, a safe, and various documents which are  being studied by the Attorney’s office.

 Translated by GH


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