First 206 Cuban MDs Arrive in Brazil
August 24, 2013
HAVANA TIMES — A first contingent of 206 Cuban doctors arrived today in
Brazil, of a total of 4,000 to participate in the Brazilian government
program called "More Doctors", designed to compensate for the lack of
physicians in the poorest regions of the country, reported dpa news.
The Cubans arrived amid the hostile climate created by Brazilian medical
associations who oppose both the entire program and recruiting Cubans in
While the critics say the type of labor contract would be considered
slave labor in Brazil, the Cubans say they are participating "in
solidarity" with the population "not for money."
"We are doctors by vocation and not for money. We work because our
assistance is requested, not for a salary, in Brazil or anywhere else in
the world," said Nelson Rodriguez a family doctor, quoted by the
newspaper "Folha Sao Paulo ".
The Brazilian medical associations question the collective contracting
of the doctors via an agreement between the Brazilian government and the
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Under the agreement, the
doctors will not receive their wages directly. PAHO will deliver the
funds to the Cuban government which will then pay the doctors.
The associations note that the Cubans receive only a small portion of
the salary stipulated for program participants, equivalent to 10,000
reals a month (about US $ 4,200), since part of the funds go to PAHO and
another portion to the Cuban government.
For the Brazilian organizations the contract model being used is the
equivalent of medical "slave labor" and described the government's
undertaking as "irresponsible" and "disrespectful".
Also the Brazilian Labor Department questioned the Cuban labor contract,
which the prosecutor Jose Ramos Pereira called "totally illegal" saying
it violates the country's labor laws and the Brazilian Constitution.
Meanwhile, the "Folha" Regional Councils of Medicine threatened to call
the police at the time that Cuban doctors start work and warned that
Brazilian physicians will not correct any errors committed by their
Cuban colleagues, which they consider unqualified.
The 206 Cubans arrived today at Recife Airport in the northeast of the
country. Thirty of them will remain in the capital of Pernambuco, while
the rest of the group will journey to Brasilia.
Another 194 Cuban doctors are expected to arrive on Sunday. Along with
244 doctors from other countries, they will start on Monday the
mandatory training course prior to beginning their basic health care
work across the country.
The official Brazilian ABR news agency said the Cubans who arrived
Saturday will be working in indigenous communities and other areas of
the country that did not arouse interest among applicants from other
countries, such as Spain and Portugal, to participate in the program.
Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha once again today refuted the
criticism from the Brazilian physicians, who are unwilling to work in
the poor isolated municipalities but don't want the Cubans there either.
"Between today and tomorrow 400 very experienced Cuban doctors will
arrive, 86 percent of them with over 16 years experience in
international missions," said the minister.
He stressed that the doctors "come to work in the 701 municipalities
that no Brazilian or other foreign doctor chose" and said that his
ministry assures "the quality of Cuban doctors."
"That's why we demanded that the doctors be experienced. They all have
expertise in family medicine and other postgruade programs," he added.
Source: "The first 206 Cuban MDs of 4,000 arrived in Brazil on Saturday"