14ymedio, Havana, November 19, 2019 — The first group of Cuban doctors coming back from Ecuador arrived on the Island very early in the morning this Tuesday at Santiago de Cuba. Of the 177 aid workers who returned in this contingent, 119, all from the eastern provinces, remained on the ground. The flight continued on to Havana, where the 58 remaining were received by the authorities, as usual.
The Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, and Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, the Vice Minister of Foreign Relations, were on the official committee in charge of welcoming the advance guard, since more than half of the Cuban healthcare workers didn’t return.
“Cuban doctors always go where they’re needed, respected and recognized,” said Portal Miranda from Terminal 3 of José Martí International Airport.
The Ecuadorian Government, on November 12, put an end to the arrangement with Cuba for doctors, which had around 400 people working in the country. María Paulo Romo, a government minister, announced the rupture and argued that at least 250 people with official Cuban passports entered the country while violent protests were going on at the beginning of October.
”Governments of every country have the authority to issue passports to their citizens, at their discretion. Our Foreign Ministry is working with the Cuban Embassy to figure out the reason for these passports. In most cases, they were used by Cuban doctors,” she said.
The Cuban Ministry of Public Health said their doctors in Ecuador “strictly” fulfilled the responsibilities of their contracts and blamed the U.S. for trying to “sabotage” and “discredit” the prestige of their ”international cooperation” in Latin America.
Cuba’s medical cooperation in Ecuador began in 1992 and was strengthened in 2009 with the signing of a framework agreement in matters of health during the visit of Ecuador’s then-President Rafael Correa to Cuba.
From the beginning of the collaboration, some 3,565 Cuban health professionals have worked in Ecuador, deployed in 23 of the 24 provinces of the country. They’ve performed more than 6.7 million medical consults, 212,360 surgeries and given 100,084 vaccinations, according to official data.
But again, there is exploitation by the Cuban Government, which pays each doctor between 700 and 800 dollars per month, while receiving $2,641 per month from the Ecuadorian Government, according to statements by Cuban doctors who worked on the medical missions.
Furthermore, the health workers, as in other countries where they’re deployed, have renounced the holding of their passports, the falsifying of statistics and the obligation to participate in the Regime’s propaganda. All that under the constant threat of preventing their return to the Island for a period of eight years and being separated, as a result, from their families.
For Cuba, international medical cooperation is one of the pillars of its foreign policy and the largest contribution to its economy. Last year Cuba reported earnings of more than six billion dollars from the work of its professionals abroad. The Government keeps around 75% of the salaries paid for the ‘cooperators’, a method very similar to that used by North Korea.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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