Brazil’s Bolsonaro begs Cuba for help
Just over a year ago Bolsonaro had this to say.
“We can’t allow Cuban slaves in Brazil and we can’t keep feeding the Cuban dictatorship,” Bolsonaro told reporters on Sunday.
During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro denigrated the doctors and said "we are going to expel the Cubans from Brazil," because their main purpose is "to form guerrilla groups."
Why did he do that? The Trump administration wanted him to.
There was just one little problem.
With more than 900 confirmed cases, 11 deaths and many suspected fatalities, Brazil is shivering with fear but Mr. Bolsonaro continues to send out confusing signals, upsetting the vast majority of middle class, which voted for him in 2018. A survey released on Thursday showed that 64% of Brazilians rejected the way Mr. Bolsonaro has handled the COVID-19 crisis, and 45% of people want him impeached. “People are feeling abandoned by the President. He has been talking about his birthday plans and calling out his supporters to the streets. There is no leadership,” says a top-level official in the Ministry of Health, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are not prepared to handle this pandemic.” Brazilian healthcare workers are in panic: top private hospitals have run out of beds, doctors do not have enough tests kits, and public hospitals are reporting a shortage of sanitisers, masks and gloves.
Finally, much like Trump, Bolsonaro has been forced to swallow his pride.
And now, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Brasilia’s right-wing occupant has done a complete about-face.
In a press conference on March 15, Brazilian Secretary of Health João Gabbardo beseeched Cuba to send back the doctors who were expelled to prevent the country’s health system from collapsing as it battled a spreading pandemic.
Gabbardo declared that 5,000 of the Cuban doctors re-deployed to Brazil will be assigned to primary care centers across the massive country.
The Bolsonaro administration’s reversal was particularly embarrassing considering that, just last year, the president claimed the Cuban doctors were not real medical experts, but ideological brain-washers training poor Brazilians to become communist guerrillas.
“The PT [Workers’ Party] sent about 10,000 costumed doctors to Brazil here, in poor places, to create guerrilla cells and indoctrinate people. So much so that, when I arrived, they left, because I was going to go after them,” Bolsonaro claimed in a conspiratorial screed in 2019.