Cuban doctors leave Brazil after Bolsonaro pressure

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AMAZON, Brazil


Following his rise to power, the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to upend the agreement between his country and Cuba that allowed thousands of Cuban doctors to work in Brazil’s remote area of Amazon as part of an aid programme helping the disadvantaged communities.

The ‘Mais Médicos’ (‘More Doctors’) programme was launched in 2013 by former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to do something about the shortage of doctors in rural, disadvantaged or remote regions of the country.

The programme allowed both Brazilians and foreigners to apply attracted thousands of Cuban doctors to Brazil.

For each doctor that it sent to participate in the programme, Cuba received around €3,600 – 30 percent of which was given to the doctor, the rest going into Cuba’s national budget.

During his campaign, Bolsonaro had threatened to stop or modify the programme.

But, on November 14, Bolsonaro announced that he thought it would be possible to continue the agreement with Cuba, on the condition that Cuban doctors passed further tests and received 100 percent of the portion of their salaries that was paid by Brazil.

In response to the announcement, the Cuban health minister said that he would suspend the programme, saying that the Brazilian leader was being “scornful” and that he was violating the agreement between the two countries.