First Cuban doctors return over spat with Brazil's Bolsonaro

Cuban doctors in Brasil

Cuban doctors in Brasil

The Cuban government generally keeps most of the salaries of state employees working overseas as part of the socialist state's "international missions".

Rousseff's leftist government began welcoming Cuban medical professionals five years ago under a programme which, at first, proved to be a huge success for communities who had never before had such easy access to healthcare.

On September 27, 2016, the Ministry of Public Health, in an official statement issued on a day close to the expiration date of the agreement and amidst the events associated to the legislative and judicial coup d' etat against president Dilma Rousseff, announced that Cuba "would continue to honor its agreement with the Pan-American Health Organization for the implementation of the Program More Doctors, provided that the guarantees offered by local authorities were maintained", something that has been so far respected.

"The Brazilian foreign policy must be a part of the moment of recovery that Brazil lives today", the president-elect said about his appointee. "Such humane acts should be respected and defended".

Over one hundred Cuban doctors participating in Brazil's "Mais Médicos" ("More Doctors") program sued Brasilia previous year demanding salaries comparable to that of Brazilian doctors.

The Brazilian government pays around United States $3,500 dollars per month for each doctor, but Cuban doctors only receive about $900 dollars, leaving the rest for the Cuban government. Thousands of other Cuban doctors go overseas each year and generate billions of dollars for the state, one of Cuba's most important sources of foreign exchange.

Cuba sends thousands of doctors to work around the world in exchange for payment directly to Havana.

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The program had planned the inclusion of Brazilian and foreign doctors who would go to work in poor and remote areas of that country. That drives many doctors to complete foreign missions in order to earn cash for important expenses like home repairs, appliances or a motor vehicle.

Outraged by the authoritarian and reactionary ideological stance of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian people regret on Thursday the withdrawal of Cuban professionals from "More Doctors" program in Brazil.

According to the Miami Herald, up to 8,500 doctors could benefit from political asylum in Brazil.

"This is slave labor", he said. Productivity is low in virtually every state-run industry, tourism has slowed under the Trump administration and Venezuela, a key ally, has cut back on subsidized oil and other aid.

Bolsonaro's aggressive rhetoric has already caused diplomatic tensions with Egypt and Cuba before he has even taken office.

De Sousa reported from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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