A total of $6,255,792 have been disbursed by the Health Institute for Wellbeing (INSABI) and the Government of Mexico City for the work of 585 Cuban doctors and nurses sent by Havana to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
DIARIO DE CUBA obtained details on the contract, signed by the Cuban government, INSABI, and authorities of the Mexican capital for the hiring of Cuban health professionals to tackle the emergency caused by the pandemic at various Mexico City hospitals.
Cuban doctors and nurses began arriving in the Mexican capital in April. On average, local authorities and INSABI have paid Havana $10,693 for each of them, a source from the Mexico City government revealed to DDC.
The Cuban professionals include specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine (family doctors), biomedical practitioners, critical medicine, internal medicine specialists, as well as epidemiologists and nurses.
According to the source consulted, the contract with Havana states that the Cuban medical personnel are to carry out activities in Mexico City, such as direct care for Covid-19 patients and epidemiological monitoring.
According to the authorities in the Mexican capital, however, the contract also covers activities such as training, specialization, consulting and joint research. They also affirm that the Cubans are not paying for their accommodations, as local hotel businesspeople take care of it.
"Training" and "specialization" are elements previously cited by the Cuban government in its agreement with the former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff for the massive participation of professionals from the island in the South American country's "More Doctors" program.
In that case, the inclusion of "training" in contracts served to elude further oversight by the Brazilian Congress. That agreement was undone upon Jair Bolsonaro's rise to power and Havana's decision to withdraw its doctors from Brazil.
The export of professional services, mainly medical, is one of the Cuban government's main sources of revenue, with it keeping at least 75% of what the destination countries pay the doctors in wages. In 2018 this activity generated some 6.4 billion dollars for Havana, far more than Tourism.
In addition to having to hand over most of their wages, the Cuban health professionals sent to missions abroad are subjected to draconian vigilance and the restriction of fundamental freedoms.
These conditions have been condemned by human rights organizations, and the UN has noted that they could constitute forms of "forced labor" and "modern slavery".
This weekend DIARIO DE CUBA was able to confirm that at least one woman doctor, a resident of Mayarí, Holguín, has escaped from the mission in Mexico City.
In addition to those sent to the Mexican capital, another 108 health professionals from the island have been in Veracruz, Mexico since May 21, under a different contract.
Offering local governments contracts seems to be the Cuban government's new strategy to sell its doctors' services. It has already done so in Peru, and the Italian region of Lombardy, and tried to with the Spanish autonomous communities of Valencia and Catalonia.
Cuba's official press widely touted the work of doctors in Lombardy and the Principality of Andorra. Despite the size of the brigade sent to Mexico (almost 700 professionals between the capital and Veracruz), coverage in this case has been scant.