Cuba Withdraws its Doctors From El Salvador

The program of the Miracle Mission eye center at the Santa Gertrudis hospital in San Vicente was closed. (Photo/Mauricio Cáceres/

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 24, 2019 — The Cuban Government decided to withdraw its doctors and other health professionals who were working in El Salvador, after the Medical Profession Oversight Board (JVPM) notified the Attorney General of the Republic of an alleged illegal practice of the profession by Cubans in the Central American country.

The Island’s Ministry of Public Health decided to withdraw 19 doctors, technicians, and nurses who were part of the Miracle Mission in El Salvador and who provided services at the National Eye Center (CON) at the Santa Gertrudis hospital in San Vicente, according to the Minister of Health of that Central American country, Violeta Menjívar, of the outgoing cabinet.

The winner of the Salvadoran elections this past February was Nayib Bukele, a 37-year-old businessman from the advertising sector, who will take office on the first of June. Until then the office will be held by the current president, Sánchez Cerén, an ex-guerrilla of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and a traditional ally of the Plaza of the Revolution of Havana.

Menjívar expressed this Wednesday her dissent because the Oversight Board was “criminalizing” the Cuban doctors by demanding the “originals” of their graduate diplomas instead of copies, and for that reason the Cuban Government withdrew them from the mission. Additionally, she described the action of the JVPM as a discrediting campaign against Cubans.

On the team of specialists who returned to Cuba were ophthalmologists, optometrists, retinologists, nurses, a clinical lab technician, biomedical professionals, a chemist, and a pharmacist. They all left El Salvador last week under orders of the Cuban Government.

The Minister of El Salvador requested that the JVPM not ask for the Cubans’ original diplomas. “Don’t be finicky,” she said, to which she added, “not a single professional is fake, a legal analysis must be done.”

Despite that request the JVPM insists that the original diplomas of the Cubans be shown in order for them to be authorized, because they believe that the Cuban professionals cannot present only copies because they are not part of The Hague agreement.

The president-elect, Nayib Bukele, said on Twitter that “starting in June the Miracle Mission will be re-established and increased.”

“When I was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán I saw how hundreds of older adults benefited, many of whom no longer had any hope of seeing,” added the leader, who emphasized that his government will place a special emphasis on hiring Salvadoran doctors and asked his compatriots “not to politicize good things.”

Cuba has been present in El Salvador with the Miracle Mission since 2015, thanks to the Specific agreement for the Implementation of an eye center in the Santa Gertrudis hospital of San Vicente, signed by the Ministries of Health of El Salvador and Cuba.

Last week the doctor Milton Brizuela, president of the Salvadoran Medical College, affirmed that the Miracle Mission “is an eminently political project of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) governments, created with electoral ends and with the aim of helping their Cuban allies.”

The official version for the reasons for the withdrawal of the Cuban medical mission from El Salvador has still not been publicized, but it is happening in a similar setting to what occurred with the doctors who participated in the Mais Medicos program in Brazil.

At the end of 2018 the Island’s Government withdrew thousands of doctors from that South American country after Jair Bolsonaro, at that time president-elect, described those professionals as “slaves” of a “dictatorship.” He had also conditioned the continuity of the program on the fulfillment of threec onditions: a test of the qualifications of the more than 8,500 Cuban doctors in the country; that they be able to receive their whole salary rather than most of it going to the Cuban government; and the demand that they would all have the freedom to bring their family members with them.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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