14ymedio, Havana, 12 November 2019 — The Ecuadorian government of Lenín Moreno has put an end to medical agreements with Cuba, in which about 400 doctors were hired from the Island. The Minister of Government, María Paula Romo, argued that at least 250 people with an official Cuban passport entered the country during the violent protests in early October.
“The government of each country has the power to give a citizen an official passport and that is the decision of the government of each country. We are working from the Foreign Ministry with the Cuban embassy to know what was the use that had been given to this type of passports. In most cases this is related to Cuban doctors,” Romo said.
The Government of the South American country called on Ecuadorian doctors to apply for vacancies left by Cubans.
The agreements between Ecuador and Cuba date from 2013, when Ecuador’s then president Rafael Correa, a political ally of Havana, asked the Cuban authorities for help to expand his country’s social programs.
As in all operations with Cuban doctors, the Government of the island keeps 75% of the payments made by the Ecuadorian State. “Cuba pays us between $700 and $800 of the $2,641 it receives from Ecuador. It also continues the salary we had in the national health system and guarantees us housing and a month of vacation. We know that it is not ideal, but at least it is more than we earn [in Cuba],” a specialist who prefers not to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals told the Nuevo Herald.
Last year, the Island received more than six billion dollars from exported services, including doctors, teachers, artists and military technicians, among others.
In Ecuador, more than 800 Cuban health professionals came to serve, many of them in remote regions.
After Lenín Moreno’s arrival to power in Ecuador and his rapid turn to the right in international politics, relations between Ecuador and Cuba cooled, the presence of Cuban doctors diminished and Havana expressed its support for ex-president Rafael Correa, who claims to be a victim of a political persecution.
Last October, Moreno eliminated gasoline subsidies, which generated a wave of protests that provisionally forced the government to move from Quito to Guayaquil. The Ecuadorian government then insisted that it was the target of a destabilization plan orchestrated from Venezuela in collusion with Correa.
Juan Fernando Flores, president of CREO Latino, an opposition party in Ecuador, said, in his opinion, that “Correa plotted the removal of Moreno from Cuba and Venezuela.” In those days Correa traveled frequently between Caracas and Havana.
The Cuban medical missions suffered a severe blow when Jair Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil demanded that Havana pay the 8,300 doctors working in Brazil the full amount being paid by Brazil for their services.
Bolsonaro also demanded that, as mandated by Brazilian law, foreign doctors had to do a revalidation exam to keep practicing medicine. Cuba unilaterally decided to break the agreement with Brazil and withdraw the doctors.
There are also doubts about the fate of 701 Cuban doctors stationed in Bolivia. After the resignation of President Evo Morales, pushed to flee the country after massive protests over an alleged electoral fraud, the professionals of the island have been told to remain in their homes and wait for directions from Havana.
“We stay informed, all the security measures taken, in our homes, for protection, everyone has their food and resources to stay in the country. But also, we keep in constant communication, receiving indications from our country,” said Yoandra Muro, head of the mission in the Andean country, to official Cuban press.
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