Monday, February 24, 2014

Cuban Doctors in Brazil - Are They in the Dark or Not?

Cuban Doctors in Brazil: Are They in the Dark or Not?
February 24, 2014
Jimmy Roque Martínez

HAVANA TIMES — Practically no Cuban working abroad as part of an
international brigade contracted by the their government knows exactly
how much the host country pays Havana for their services, but most
content themselves with the money they get, which allows them to buy
certain things they need and is always much more than what they earn in

Recently, there was news that at least five Cuban physicians in Brazil's
Mas Medicos ("More Doctors") program, which aims to address some of the
country's healthcare needs, had deserted. Such desertions are far from
uncommon. On this particular occasion, one of the doctors, Ramon Matos
Rodriguez, is accusing Cuba of lying to her about the actual amount of
her salary.

Another physician told me that it was only after six years of work in
Venezuela that she was able to find out what her true salary was, thanks
to a government official in the mission who was a friend of hers. If
Cubans are cheap labor back home, why should they expect anything else
abroad (signing a contract with the very same State that exploits them
at home)?

During the preparations for the Mas Medicos program at the end of 2012,
the first doctors who traveled to Brazil held a meeting with Ministry of
Health officials, where they were told that anyone who deserted the
mission would not be authorized to work in Brazil (not even in the
private sector).

As regards the "work contract", the members of Cuba's brigade were told
that, in the event a Brazilian government official in Cuba asked them
how much they would be paid for their services, they were to reply they
didn't know, as they had yet to sign the agreement.

At the time, no one raised any objections to the bureaucrats who
arbitrarily imposed such regulations on them.

The terms under which Cuban medical doctors are to work in Brazil were
negotiated by the governments of Brazil and Cuba, as well as the
Pan-American Health Organization and the Sociedad Mercantil Cubana
Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos (Cuban Medical Services Firm).

It is true the Cuban government deceived Cuban health professionals by
concealing the actual amount paid for their services, but the doctors
surely suspected this ahead of time. It doesn't make it any less unjust,
but it seems hard to believe it took them by surprise.

The salary these doctors earn abroad is high compared to the average
salary paid in Cuba (around 20-25 USD a month). This contradicts the
foreign press campaign that refers to the work of Cubans in Brazil as
"slave labor."

If there is any maneuver by the Cuban State, it is to be found in the
contracts. Lack of transparency is characteristic of this government.
The brigade members were denied the right to know the real amount paid
for their services and the percentage that would end up in government hands.

Or were they? Can any doctor who has deserted or is still working in
Brazil make their contract public?

In addition, Cubans should also be informed of the amounts earned
through medical services abroad and how these sums are used to improve
Cuba's healthcare system. There is no reason to conceal this information.

In a comment published in Havana Times this past January, a Cuban
medical doctor denounced the government for lying to him about the
amount paid for his services in Brazil and quoted Cuba's Health
Vice-Minister Marcia Cobas' declarations for the Brazilian press on
August 26.

On that occasion, Cobas had reported that Cubans would receive anywhere
from 40 to 50 percent of the 10 thousand Reales (4,100 USD) Brazil would
be paying for each professional. Now, we know the Cuban government is
actually paying only 25 per cent of that salary.

In the meantime, Cuba's official press has limited itself to reporting
that some sectors in Brazil are attempting to discredit the Mas Medicos
program and has offered partial information about the case of Dr. Ramona
Matos Rodriguez, making no mention of the issue of salaries or the
62-thousand-dollar compensation Matos is suing for in Brazil's courts.

Source: Cuban Doctors in Brazil: Are They in the Dark or Not? - Havana -

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