Denying people medical care as a way of crushing Cuba
Since 1963 Cuba has been exporting its doctors to third world nations around the world.
There are currently over 50,000 Cuban doctors working in 67 countries. Cuba takes health care seriously. These are high quality doctors. Life expectancy in Cuba is higher than in the U.S. despite our embargo.
In the Cold War years, Cuba began using its doctors as a diplomatic tool to overcome political isolation...
Sending doctors abroad for humanitarian purposes is also great PR for the country. Cuban medics won praise in international media for their efficacy and commitment after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and during West Africa’s 2014 Ebola crisis...
Today, it’s not all about altruism.
Cuba leases these doctors to other countries that are desperately short of medical professionals, and keeps roughly 2/3rd of their salary. That translates into roughly $11 Billion a year of revenue, second only to tourism. The doctors still manage to make far more for their families than they would in Cuba.
So how do you think the American government frames it?
Cuba’s international medical missions are a form of human trafficking and modern slavery, U.S. State Department officials told a news conference in New York...
The U.S. government also is publicizing its criticisms of the Cuban medical missions so that host countries “can’t say they weren’t aware that this was human trafficking,” she said.
Nations where the Cuban medical missions are working need to end the practice, said Carlos Trujillo, U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.
“Across the Americas, there are multiple countries that continue to have these programs,” he said.
“What we’re really asking here is for a lot of the countries ... who are continuing to traffick and conduct these type of activities with Cuban doctors in their countries to please stop.”
Right. Because we care about these doctors.
But Washington is serious about ending this program, and this week the government took the next step.
The White House has banned government agencies from funding educational and cultural exchanges with Cuban, Syrian, Russian and North Korean government entities and officials as part of Trump administration efforts to halt people trafficking in those countries, according to a memorandum sent to the State Department.
In response, our lapdog government in Ecuador suspended the hiring of about 400 Cuban doctors. The program between Ecuador and Cuba dates from 2013, when leftist president Rafael Correa expanded social services to rural areas.
So what happens when a nation stops its program with Cuba? Look no further than Brazil.
During his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist, committed to making major changes to the Mais Médicos program, an initiative begun in 2013 when a leftist government was in power. The program sent doctors into Brazil’s small towns, indigenous villages and violent, low-income urban neighborhoods.
About half of the Mais Médicos doctors were from Cuba, and they were deployed to 34 remote indigenous villages and the poorer quarters of more than 4,000 towns and cities, places that established Brazilian physicians largely shun.
“The willingness of Cuban doctors to work in difficult conditions became a cornerstone of the public health system,” said Ms. Bahia, the professor.
Two weeks after Mr. Bolsonaro won the presidency in October, Cuba ordered all its doctors out.
In the first four years of Mais Médicos, the percentage of Brazilians receiving primary care rose to 70 percent from 59.6 percent, according to a report by the Pan-American Health Organization, which coordinated Cuba’s participation in the program.
The withdrawal of Cuban doctors could reverse that trend, with the consequences especially severe for those under 5, potentially leading to the deaths of up to 37,000 young children by 2030, warned Dr. Gabriel Vivas, an official with the Pan-American Health Organization.
In February, it looked as if Mr. Bolsonaro would fulfill his promise: the national Health Ministry announced that all of the positions left vacant by Cuba’s withdrawal had been filled with Brazilian doctors. But by April, thousands of the new recruits had either quit or failed to show up for work in the first place.
The lives of 37,000 children is a small price to pay to make sure that doctors get private sector wages.
2,000 of the over 8,000 Cuban doctors chose to remain in Brazil, which is curious for slaves, amirite?
But Brazil never got around to getting them certified, so they are now just 2,000 more unemployed people in Brazil. It's almost as if Bolsonaro didn't care about health care for its people.
In April, Dr. Sánchez gave up and moved to São Paulo, where he scrapes together money by selling homemade sweets and working as a baggage handler at an airport.
“Now he doesn’t talk about us at all, just silence,” Dr. Sánchez said.
The health secretary of Embu-Guaçu, Dr. Maria Dalva, said she was frustrated that 63 percent of the city had voted for Mr. Bolsonaro, despite his overt antipathy for Mais Médicos.
“The child mortality rate here dropped to 7 percent from 17 percent in five years thanks to Mais Médicos,” said Dr. Dalva. “I told people to think about that before they voted.”