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Cuban doctors in Saudi Arabia complain of the dangers they face and abuses by the head of their mission

Some work in areas of conflict between the country and Yemen, and complain that they are now required to cover expenses with their own wages from Havana.

La Habana

A group of Cuban doctors rendering their services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have presented a letter to the island's authorities complaining about a lack of attention by the head of the Cuban medical mission in the Arab country and the privileges that he enjoys.

Among the complaints in the letter, to which DIARIO DE CUBA had access, they mention the neglect suffered by some 30% of the Cuban doctors in the country, who are working in hospitals located in the country’s southern area, racked by military clashes with Yemeni rebels, a conflict that has grown more intense in recent months.

"To date, the collaborators have not received any notification, directive or circular explaining an evacuation plan in the event of a military catastrophe (...) at no time has there been a call or a visit by the medical administration in this country, or any indication from the Cuban embassy in Riyadh regarding a possible evacuation plan," the text reads.

They also express their disagreement with a directive from the head of the mission, Dr. Luis Hernández Hernández, reporting that several of the expenses hitherto covered by the Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos Cubanos S.A. (CSMC S.A)., like transportation and lodging, as of the beginning of this year are to be paid for by the doctors themselves.

The contract the doctors signed with the Cuban State-owned company stipulated that they will only receive 25% of the salary paid by Saudi Arabia for their services, the rest going to the Cuban Government, through CSMC S.A.

However, the doctors state in the letter that, in contrast to the expenses that these professionals are having to cover with their salaries, the head of the Cuban medical mission is staying on the premises of the Cuban embassy in Riyadh, where he pays for neither rent nor utilities. He also has a car in the capital, and when he travels inland in the country he rents a vehicle at the airport, expenses paid for by CMSC S.A.

In the letter the doctors also explain that the wife of the head of the mission is actually in charge of its economic oversight in the Arab country, such that "there is a risk of incurring in nepotism."

Moreover, the doctors also indicate that there has been a great delay in the delivery of information on the physicians to the Saudis so that they can take their professional validation examination, and be rehired, a task that is incumbent upon at the head of the mission, but which he has yet to carry out. As a result, some 40% of these professionals run the risk of not being able to continue to work in the country.

Approximately 400 Cuban doctors work in Saudi Arabia as part of an agreement with the country's government, implemented in 2013.

The Saudi monarchy has reinitiated its relationship with the Cuban regime and finances, in the amount of 122 million dollars, a project to modernize the hydraulic infrastructure of four Cuban cities.

Last year, the Saudi Development Fund also granted a 26.6 million dollar loan to the Government for renovation work in the capital's historic center.

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