Cuba to pull thousands of doctors from Brazil in Bolsonaro row — official

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuba announced Wednesday it will pull thousands of its doctors out of Brazil in response to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro's "direct, contemptuous and threatening" remarks about its medical aid programme.

The far-right leader repeatedly criticised the Communist-run island's "More Doctors" programme — which sends thousands of Cuban doctors to work in deprived areas of Brazil — and said his government would introduce changes.

"In the light of this unfortunate reality, the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba has decided to discontinue its participation," a statement released by the ministry said.

Bolsonaro has been scathing about Cuba's programme saying the doctors received only a quarter of what Brazil was paying the Cuban government for their services. He said his government would individually hire doctors who wanted to remain in the country.

The Cuban health ministry said Bolsonaro had "questioned the qualification of our doctors and has conditioned their permanence in the programme to a process of validation" of their qualifications. The programme has been underway since August 2013, and since then nearly 20,000 Cuban doctors have treated 113.5 million Brazilians, according to the ministry.

In the strongly worded statement, Cuba said the conditions being imposed by Bolsonaro — who takes office on January 1 — were "unacceptable."

It blasted Bolsonaro's "decision to bring into question the dignity, professionalism and altruism of Cuban cooperation workers" who it said were currently serving in 67 countries.

The Brazilian people "recognised their virtues," the health ministry said, and knew who should be "held responsible for our doctors not being able to continue offering their fraternal contribution in that country."

Cuba's "white-coat diplomacy" was begun under Fidel Castro after the 1959 revolution, and has grown to become the island's main source of foreign earnings, estimated at about US$11 billion a year.

Cuban media reported this week that Havana is sending 500 more doctors to crisis-wracked Venezuela.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon