14ymedio, Havana, August 10, 2020 — The organization Archivo Cuba (Cuba Archive) and the platform No Somos Desertores (We are not Deserters), formed by Cuban health workers who are prevented by their Government from returning to the Island, have publicized an initiative for connecting Cuban doctors with countries that need reinforcements for their health systems during the pandemic. Negotiations have begun with two countries from the American continent.
The initiative, “Médicos Cubanos Libres contra el Covid-19” (Free Cuban Doctors Against Covid-19), intends to promote contracting directly with Cuban health workers without government intermediaries, as happens now, guaranteeing labor conditions, direct payment of salaries, trip expenses, lodging and medical insurance.
In the press release, the NGO, headquartered in Miami, announces that the project will allow Cuban doctors to “exercise their profession freely”. It also points out that, at present, they receive an average salary of less than 70 dollars a month and can work only “for the State, under total control of the Communist Party of Cuba”.
On the other hand, they explain that outside Cuba, most of the doctors who have emigrated in search of better conditions for life and liberty “aren’t managing to have their qualifications recognized and face all kinds of obstacles”. Archivo Cuba says that the countries that hire Cuban doctors independently will gain access to medical specialists “without entering into bilateral accords with the Cuban State, which institutes a form of modern slavery and human trafficking”.
Thus, they explain, the contracting party will avoid the Cuban Government’s requirements that the accords demand, such as “paying personnel who watch and discipline (“manage”) doctors and oblige them to buy drugs and medical supplies subject to murky practices for increasing income to the Cuban State, and they will have an alternative that “respects workers’ rights and upholds international rights”.
Archivo Cuba gives as an example the French territory of Martinique, which recently signed an agreement to import a brigade of 14 Cuban health workers and an “administrator”, through which the workers would be paid 23 euros a day. “This is less than 25% of the pay that toilet cleaners receive in the Fort-de-France hospital”, they say, and they argue: “France should abide by the institutional mechanisms of the European Union to combat human trafficking, and contracting Cuban doctors directly represents a practical and humanitarian solution that will avoid legal repercussions“.
In response to questions by 14ymedio, María Werlau, the President of the NGO, says that she’s been talking to parliamentarians “in two countries who are very interested, but that doesn’t include Martinique”.
As far as the professionals who might be interested, the organization says that it will notify them directly of any employment opportunity. The confidentiality of the organization’s data, explains Werlau, will be guaranteed, and only two people in Archivo Cuba will have access to it. “We’re only connecting interested parties with employment managers once we can give them the details of offers that are concrete and they authorize us to do so”, she specifies.
Exporting health services is the major source of income for the Cuban Government. In 2018, the last year of official statistics, Cuba received $6.4 billion for the export of health services.
Since last March, the Cuban Government has taken advantage of Covid-19 to send some 3,000 health workers to more than 40 countries, which, in addition to the fortune in payments this supposes, has allowed them to launch a world-wide propaganda campaign, even to claim the Nobel Peace Prize for the medical brigades, which they hope will be announced on the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s birth on August 13.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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.