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A Dozen Mexican Medical Associations' "Profound Disagreement" with the Hiring of Cubans

In a letter to President López Obrador, they consider it "a serious offense" that the government spent $6.2 million on the hiring of Cubans, as DIARIO DE CUBA revealed last week.

Ciudad de México
Mexican doctors protest the lack of supplies.
Mexican doctors protest the lack of supplies. @TANIA93615151 / TWITTER

Presidents and directors of four different associations, two schools, three federations, a society and a confederation of Mexican medical specialists sent a letter on Saturday to the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in which they expressed their "profound disagreement and vigorous dissent" in response to the hiring, with public money, of 585 Cuban doctors, who have been in the country's capital since April 28.

The Mexican union's representatives deemed the hiring of the Cuban medical mission for 6.2 million dollars, revealed by DIARIO DE CUBA last week, "a serious affront to national health professionals."

"These foreign doctors do not possess the required competencies, do not have duly specified functions, or comply with the requirements established by current legislation; and they lack endorsement by the (corresponding) professional associations. Their intervention has not entailed any benefits for the care of our population, but does constitute a serious breach of equal treatment for doctors in our country," they said

 They stated that most of their Cuban counterparts hired to deal with Covid-19 are "general doctors without specializations", who have been posted "in different hospital areas, or just for consultation support, undermining the functionality of the hospitals to which they are assigned."

"It should be noted that, in Mexico, all general practitioners and specialists have documents and certificates endorsing their qualification for their practice, a regulation that has been violated by the decree allowing medical personnel lacking this certification to practice within the Mexican Republic."

The signatories of the letter, obtained by DIARIO DE CUBA, also clarified that in their country there are already doctors with said endorsement from the Mexican universities, "fully trained to appreciate the needs and idiosyncrasies of our population", such that they saw no reason to hire Cubans.

"We have been unfairly relegated, with priority being given to foreign doctors, ignoring the academic capacity of our universities. It is an injustice to favor foreigners over Mexican doctors when we comply with all the requirements established by the Law of Professions and General Health Law," the union representatives explained

 They also stated that it is "cause for indignation" that public money, already limited, was allocated "unfairly, apportioning fees to foreign personnel, and paying them a salary higher than that received by Mexican medical specialists at institutions in the Health sector. These are, in addition, economic resources that the Health sector urgently requires to combat the pandemic, for supplies, such as quality Personal Protective Equipment."

The doctors close the letter by telling President López Obrador that, although these are difficult times, "it is time to join forces."

"We are sure that Mexicans, supported by their doctors, nurses, and all health personnel, will come out ahead and emerge stronger."

The letter is endorsed by the Mexican College of Internal Medicine, Mexican Association for Disaster/Emergency Medicine, Mexican Association of General Surgery, Mexican Federation of Colleges of General Surgery Specialists, Mexican Federation of Colleges of Anesthesiology, Mexican Association of Pediatric Intensive Therapy, Mexican College of Critical Medicine, Mexican Federation of Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mexican Society of Emergency Medicine, National Pediatric Confederation of Mexico, Mexican Association for the Study of Nosocomial Infections, and the Mexican Association of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology.

$ 10,693 for each Cuban doctor

Last week, after an interview with the Health Secretary of the Mexican capital, Oliva López Arellano, DIARIO DE CUBA revealed that the Institute of Health for Wellbeing (INSABI) pays Havana $6,255,792 for each Cuban professional; that is, about $ 10,693.

DIARIO DE CUBA was able to later confirm, through a source with the Cuban medical brigade in Mexico, and another source close to these professionals, that until Sunday, June 7, doctors on the island had only received $660 for three months of work on their missions.

López Arellano stated that the funds distributed by Mexico are also allocated for training, specialization, consulting, and joint research, while hoteliers have made donations covering the Cuban doctors' accommodations.

The export of professional services, mainly medical, is one of the Cuban government's main sources of revenue, with it retaining 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 at least three quarters of their salaries, Cuban health professionals sent on missions abroad are subjected to stringent surveillance and restrictions 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."

Asked for her opinion in this regard, López Arellano stated that the Cuban professionals' work in Mexico is "voluntary." At the time of the interview, conducted on June 3, she denied that Mexican doctors had complained about the Cuban doctors' presence or work.

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