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Echoes from Brazil

The 4,000 Cuban Physicians

Manoel da Rocha Fiuza
Some days ago, the Brazilian government signed a “cooperative” agreement with Cuba to have 4,000 Cuban physicians come to Brazil to work among the poor. This project called More Doctors will cost the taxpayers $216.8 million.

Both governments are treating the medical doctors and their services as export-import commodities. They will not receive a salary for their work; instead payment will be sent directly to the Cuban government, which will decide what percentage - probably between 30% and 40% – will be given to each medical professional.

Dilma Rousseff and Raul Castro

Dilma Rousseff and Raul Castro treat the 4,000 physicians like merchandise

Not only do the physicians not have the right to collect their salaries, but they also are not allowed to quit. In other words, if one of them is not adjusting to the place where he was assigned or does not like the hospital conditions where he is working, he cannot annul the contract.

This is because no personal contract exists for the physician. There is only the agreement of the two governments over the imported work force. It is not difficult to see that we are facing a situation not so different from slave labor.

Further, the physicians were not given passports, since both governments harbored suspicions that some of the doctors could take advantage of the trip to Brazil to never return to Cuba. To prevent this from occurring, Dilma Rousseff, an old communist-guerilla activist, provided Raul Castro with every guarantee that the Brazilian government would not allow such a situation.

Thus, not only were the Brazilian authorities forbidden to give political asylum to any of these Cubans doctors who might request it, but Rousseff herself issued an official notice to the doctors warning that they would be apprehended and imprisoned should they try to seek asylum in any other country with diplomatic representatives in Brazil. Of course the chief target of her warning is the U.S. This project makes Brazil an extension of a Cuban prison, where the police exercise constant surveillance over these physicians.

Slave-physicians of Cuba

This is how Brazilian doctors are picturing
the 4,000 slave-physicians

Distrustful that Rousseff’s threats would suffice, Raul Castro forbade the families of these doctors to travel with them to Brazil. They remain in Cuba as hostages to guarantee that none of the physicians will be tempted to abandon his wife and children. Should any of the visiting physicians escape the country, their families will bear the consequences.

So, we are witnessing a flagrant transgression of human rights just under our noses. Where are the Church authorities, so eager today to defend human rights instead of the integrity of the Faith? Where are the representatives of Amnesty International who normally override the sovereignty of any country to claim the supposed rights of the people for their leftist causes? Why are they not speaking out about the situation of these physicians?

None of these leaders seems to care about the Cuban physicians. The same persons who are ready to mourn the always-dying Mandela because he was a terrorist imprisoned by a rightist government have no word of pity or sympathy for the Cuban slave-physicians shipped off to Brazil to work.

Juridical perspective

Although no human rights leader is standing up to defend these unfortunate doctors, some voices have been raised in the juridical milieu, protesting a lack of “constitutional isonomy” - constitutional parity - between Brazil and Cuba.

These protests are against the blatant preference shown by Rousseff’s government toward a regime that in the past murdered thousands of Fidel Castro’s enemies without any semblance of trials. This same regime, today, does not allow its citizens to freely leave the country and rigorously regulates foreign visitors.

Concern was also voiced for the lack of equivalence between the salaries given to the Cuban physicians and the much higher salaries received by their Brazilians colleagues.

Notorious lack of competence

The Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine (FCM) issued an official notice accusing the government of irresponsibility for bringing over these Cuban physicians without checking either their capacity as doctors or their competence in the Portuguese language. FCM rightly claims that this project violates the law and puts at risk the health of many Brazilians.

The government’s failure to demand any competence test can only be attributed to doubts about their professional capacities. Last year, such a test was given – for other reasons – to 182 physicians who had just received their certification in Cuba, and only 20 were deemed capable according to basic Brazilian standards. In other words, 89% were judged incompetent.

If anyone in Brazil practices medicine without proper certification, he is prosecuted by the law as a charlatan. This not only guarantees protection for the properly certified doctors, but also acts as an assurance for the health of the population. If these Cuban doctors do not answer to competence tests, why should they not be considered charlatans?

Furthermore, their lack of fluency in Portuguese makes it almost impossible to work in the poor areas of Brazil, where the level of culture is low and almost no one understands Spanish. The 4,000 doctors are supposed to be given a three-week course in Portuguese. Such a course might be useful for tourists planning to visit our country, but who can learn our language in this short time in order to responsibly exercise a profession? One can only imagine the confusion resulting from doctors advising patients and patients explaining their problems to doctors when they speak different languages.

The first wave arrives

Cuban physicians in Brazil

Are the 4,000 Cubans, above, physicians or communist agents?

The contract between Cuba and Brazil was signed on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. On the same day it was announced that the first physicians would arrive that very weekend, which they actually did. These Cuban doctors arrived in Recife, State of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil. They were escorted by Army troops and taken to Army headquarters, where they will live during their stay in Brazil.

Until now, I have presented these men as actual doctors. But, to be honest, why shouldn’t I suspect that they may be communist agents being imported by their good communist friend, Dilma Rousseff, in order to spread their nefarious ideas among the poor?

Healthy reactions

Protests by doctors and medical students

Top: medicine students take over the House of Representatives in Paraiba to protest; bottom: doctors blame Rousseff for not offering proper work conditions

On August 30, 2013, the Brazilian Association of Medicine (BAM) filed a lawsuit against the More Doctors project as being unconstitutional and risky for the population. The National Federation of Doctors, representing 53 physician unions, is preparing similar suits in federal and state courts claiming the action unconstitutional.

Regional Councils of Medicine in different States of Brazil are reacting energetically against the More Doctors project. In Minas Gerais the president of the Regional Council promised to boycott the Cuban physicians: “We will not offer assistance to the physicians of the More Doctors project,” declared João Batista Gomes.

In other States the Regional Councils are labeling the practice of medicine by these Cuban physicians “illegal”, and threatening to call the police to stop them from such work.

Return to slavery

What we see is that, practically speaking, Rousseff’s government is ignoring the Golden Law enacted in 1888 by Princess Isabel to abolish slavery in Brazil. With this agreement the government not only is favoring human beings being treated as merchandise, but exploiting human labor to a point very close to slavery. Further, the government is acting as an accomplice of the Cuban regime that is holding the families of these physicians as hostages.

This measure also strikes hard against Brazilian doctors, who are being forced to accept these untested physicians as their colleagues.

Finally, by warning these Cuban physicians that they cannot receive political asylum, the Brazilian government violates the International Law of civilized nations in order to favor a communist regime.

Posted September 6, 2013

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