14ymedio, Havana, 7 September 2020 — The almost 700 Cuban doctors who arrived in Mexico in April to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic — with 585 of them in the capital and the rest in Veracruz — were working without immigration permits, the Latinus portal published this Sunday.
According to official reports obtained by this news site after, requests to the transparency portal of the Mexican Government — requests that the agencies are obliged to respond to by law — there is no evidence of a “regular and documented” stay of the Cuban doctors in Mexico, such as “temporary residence cards, temporary or permanent student cards,” nor a document that proves the legal stay of health workers in the database of the National Institute of Migration (INM).
“No data was found on Cuban nationals having obtained any of the aforementioned documents in May of this year, and who, when filling in the forms, indicated that they belonged to the health and care services sector,” the INM Directorate reported.
On the other hand, they did not enter as “visitors”, since the Directorate of Airports and Maritime Ports and the Directorate of Migration Control and Verification did not register that they filled out the “multiple migratory form,” as every tourist does when arriving in the country.
The lack of transparency about the hiring of Cuban healthworkers in Mexico has been a constant. The Secretary of Health of Mexico City, Oliva Pérez Arellano, acknowledged in June that the Government of Mexico paid Cuba 135 million pesos — 6.2 million dollars — and appealed to an agreement signed between both countries. However, that agreement was never made public.
It is known that the Cubans worked in state hospitals, both in Mexico City and in Veracruz, and that the payment was made through the National Institute of Health for Well-being (Insabi), recently created by the Administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
A Cuban health worker stationed in Mexico who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal told 14ymedio that the doctors received a stipend of $660 upon arrival in the country and the payment for the three-month mission was $1,350. He also said that although several fell ill with Covid-19 and some were in critical condition, none died.
The Cuban mission has been surrounded by controversy since the first doctors arrived in April. In June, several medical schools criticized the decision to hire Cubans, calling it a “grievance” towards national specialists. There were no shortages of desertions either: at least 15 professionals, according to Diario de Cuba reporting at the time.
The largest contingent of health workers returned to the island . However, about 200 will remain in Veracruz until October, according to the anonymous source to this newspaper.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.