Behind us now are the first days of December, marked by the return of Cuban medical professionals working as part of Brazil's More Doctors program. Their testimony; the embrace of the Cuban people and their families; the recognition of a duty well done; and the eternal gratitude of millions of human beings, are now unforgettable treasures of our doctors.
With the purpose of clarifying some of the most common questions which have been raised since the return of Cuban medical personnel began, and debunking attempts to distort the Cuban position on the issue, Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an online public information channel.
Granma addresses the essential points made by the Ministry that explain the painful but necessary decision, given the valuable human content of the work of our doctors in Brazil.
What circumstances led the Ministry of Public Health to recall Cuban professionals working in the More Doctors program?
The direct, demeaning, threatening statements by Brazil's President-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, regarding the presence of our doctors in the country, insisting that he would modify the terms and conditions of the More Doctors program. These statements questioned the professional qualifications of our doctors and conditioned their continued participation in the program on the revalidation of their licenses and individual contracts. No member of his transition team has communicated to our Ministry of Public Health any interest in discussing the terms of current cooperation, indicating that the President-elect's purpose is to not maintain the program.
The President-elect has expressed contradictions that shed light on the real goal of his posture in terms of Cuban doctors in Brazil. What are these contradictions?
On the one hand, he demands that the doctors take an exam to demonstrate their competence and ability to work in Brazil, and at the same time, with no mention of exams or evidence of any kind, he announces that he will automatically grant political asylum to all Cuban doctors. Cuba cannot be assured that our doctors are safe in this environment of uncertainty, with a government of dubious professionalism. To continue working, Bolsonaro demands that they take an exam, and for the political show, gives them a blank check, regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof. It is obvious that he adjusted his discourse for political purposes, regardless of the interests of the Brazilian people.
Assertions have been made that our collaboration was based on the political affinity Cuba shared with a Brazilian party, and that Cuba proposed the program. Is there any truth to this?
The current administration's Minister of Health has described the program - that brought so many benefits to Brazil - as a political propaganda project associated with a party, which we strongly deny. Cuban doctors never asked what party a Brazilian patient supported, nor were they concerned about which political party Health authorities were affiliated with.
The program was created by the government of Dilma Rousseff, concerned with the basic healthcare needs of millions of Brazilians. What Cuba did propose during the negotiations was to go to places where there was no system of attention in place, or that had never seen a doctor. Hiring was begun through an extended, open call for professionals from any country; during that process, Brazil requested the cooperation of Cuba.
Cuban health professionals have completed more than 600,000 missions in 164 nations. What are the principles that Cuba defends in relation to this internationalist work?
Cuba's international collaboration is carried out combining the potential of the two countries involved, on a non-profit basis, taking into account the existing differences and asymmetries. Our presence comes in response to explicit requests from the recipient countries and is always governed by a collaboration agreement, established between the appropriate institutions, and in accordance with the vocation that Cuba has defended over the last 60 years.The international cooperation Cuba offers is based on the principles of solidarity and mutual benefit; it is an essential element of the Revolution's foreign policy, and contributes to the economic and social development of our country. It is carried out without political constraints, and with full respect for the principles of international law, that is, with absolute respect for the sovereignty, laws, culture, religion, and self-determination of states.This work of help and solidarity with other peoples of the world contributes to the improvement of our national health system, allowing it to be strengthened, as Cuban professionals acquire greater experience, awareness, commitment, and dedication, along with their families and the people. Medical collaboration is a cardinal element of the recognition and respect our country has won internationally. It carries the humanist essence of the Revolution
One of the issues used to distort the nature of Cuban medical collaboration lies precisely in the payment of internationalists, and the guarantees that they and their families enjoy. What is the reality in relation to this question?
All professionals receive their salary in Cuba and social services for their families are guaranteed while they are on a mission, and receive a stipend in the countries where they work.Logically, this collaboration generates a certain level of income for the country, which is used to sustain our health system - that is free and serves every corner of the Cuban territory. To this must be added that, as a blockaded country, it is increasingly difficult to obtain supplies, medical equipment, the latest generation medications, but our people have never been obliged to pay a penny for assistance at any of our health institutions.Not only have those who return to the homeland been guaranteed safe passage and the order needed to arrive without problem, they also have the right to continue exercising their profession.Our doctors are never unneeded, in Cuba or anywhere in the world, and if today we are able to exhibit the health indicators that we treasure, it is largely thanks to this conviction. All returning doctors have their position, their job, guaranteed. Proposals will also be made to allow them to pursue a second medical specialty, even though General Comprehensive Medicine physicians resolve 80% of the health problems in their communities, with the remaining 20% addressed in hospitals. The study of other languages will also be encouraged, since collaboration must continue in different countries of the world.
Anyone who knows the essence of our social work might think that Cuba would respond to Bolsonaro in kind. Is there any possibility of this?
There is no change. Just as in previous years, Brazilian youth may continue coming to our country to study medicine. This is a relationship between peoples that will not be broken. In this arena, everything will continue occurring with absolute normality.
This is the truth that we transparently present to the world, because we are backed by a history of humanism, good will, and proletarian internationalism. Given these solid arguments, unfounded lies will get nowhere.