Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would be negotiating the hiring of 3,000 Cuban doctors to offer health care in that country, according to a joint report by Brazilian newspaper Estadão and Cubanet.
According to the report , it is a part of the doctors who worked in Brazil in the More Doctors program ( Mais Médicos ) and that the Cuban government ordered to withdraw in mid-November.
The negotiations, which began in September, have been led by Lazaro Cardenas Batel, the new chief of staff of the Mexican presidency, and former governor of the state of Michoacan, they said to Estadão sources involved in the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Cárdenas Batel is the son of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, founder of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and grandson of former President Lázaro Cárdenas. López Obrador’s new advisor (also known simply as AMLO) studied in Cuba and is married to a Cuban. According to the report, Cárdenas Batel would have discussed with the Cuban authorities and the former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim the adaptation of the Más Médicos program to the conditions in Mexico.
In his inauguration speech on Sunday, Lopez Obrador promised: “to guarantee Mexicans free medical care and medication.”
“We will start in the medical units of the Social Security located in the poorest areas of the country and little by little the program will be expanded until we achieve, in the middle of the six-year period, to establish a first-rate health system, as in Canada or in the countries Nordic, “he said in the speech in which he made 100 commitments.
After the ceremony, López Obrador received the Cuban leader, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who traveled to Mexico for the inauguration. Díaz-Canel was received at the airport by Cárdenas Batel, with whom he held a meeting, according to Cuban media reports.
The Cuban ambassador in that country, Pedro Núñez Mosquera, told the official Granma newspaper that Mexico was the second commercial partner of Cuba in Latin America, after Venezuela, and that he hoped that this exchange would expand. Mexican doctors already prescribe to their patients the use of a Cuban medication for diabetes, said the ambassador.
For the Cuban government, a new agreement with the leftist government of López Obrador could alleviate the losses caused by withdrawing doctors from Brazil. The island government said that the conditions proposed by President-elect Jair Bolsonaro to continue the program -the full payment of salaries to Cuban doctors, the completion of a revalidation of the title and the possibility of taking their families to Brazil- They were “unacceptable.”
According to official figures, about 8,300 Cuban doctors worked in the Más Médicos program. According to Prensa Latina , some 3,000 have already returned to Cuba.
Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Cuban Embassy in Washington immediately answered questions sent by the Nuevo Herald about the negotiations with Mexico.
The export of medical services is one of the main sources of income of the Cuban government. According to diplomatic couriers, Cuba even asked for up to $ 8,000 for each doctor sent to Brazil. Both governments then agreed to pay $ 4,000. The doctors received only $ 1,000 and one part remained in an account in Cuba that they did not have access to until they returned to the island.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami last week alleges that this scheme constituted “human trafficking” and “forced labor.”
Cuban doctors who left the program in Brazil and now reside in the United States, sued the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) , a United Nations agency based in Washington, for participating and benefiting from this program’s payment scheme More Doctors According to the lawsuit, the Brazilian government would have paid nearly $ 1,300 million to Cuba and PAHO would have obtained $ 75 million for acting as intermediary.
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres