Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A while back the Curmudgeon began a diatribe with “The Cubans are coming! The Cubans are coming! Card Carrying Communists infiltrated into our heartland by Fidel and Dilma!” And, over the fierce objections of the Brazilian medical establishment, they are here and working as doctors in poor communities.
As was predicted, some of them don’t want to return to Cuba, notwithstanding Raul’s recent very slight opening of the previously hermetically sealed socialist society. Some of them want to go to the U.S. (what a surprise). Within the last week or so, one of them did. He just got on a plane and went there.
Please don’t ask the Curmudgeon what sort of visa the runaway medic had, if any — perhaps the US accepts any Cuban who shows up with a one-way ticket to the land of milk and honey, even if he has no money. Speaking of which, how did the fugitive find the cash to buy that plane ticket?
Cuban doctors here are paid around R$1,000 per month cash as a living allowance (Brazil pays the Cuban government R$10,000 per month) and they usually have free housing. They live and work in poor communities, where life is far less expensive than in the Zona Sul. So, with some scrimping and saving, the “defector” could have scraped up the air fare.
Was there a benefactor who coughed up the cash? Perhaps he found some anonymous donors, who probably weren’t the same people as those who gave the convicted PT criminal R$600,000 in one day so he could pay his fine. The Curmudgeon’s suspicion is that some Brazilian doctors secretly helped the getaway cause.
Why would doctors do that? The Curmudgeon suspects a plot, and will explain. At about the same time, another Cuban doctor left the Mais Médicos program, went to representatives of DEM, Brazil’s most right-wing political party, and told them she wanted to defect to Brazil as well as to the United States. That’s right, she requested political asylum here.
Her justification is that Brazilian doctors, who do what she does, earn salaries ten times greater than she does, i.e. the same R$10,000 Brazil pays the Castro brothers. The Brazilian medical establishment has, astonishingly, opened welcoming professional arms to the doctor who wants to stay here!
They’ve offered her a job—in an administrative position, of course, because she can’t practice medicine until she gets her Brazilian license. This is a far cry from the welcome the medical establishment gave the Cubans on their arrival. One must ask: “why this about face?”
The Curmudgeon’s answer is that most Brazilian doctors loathe and despise the Mais Médicos program and will do whatever it takes to discredit it. When Cuban doctors defect, that reflects badly on the program. Moreover, most members of the Brazilian medical establishment are capitalists and elitists, who loathe and despise President Dilma, and will do whatever it takes to keep her from being re-elected.
When Cuban doctors defect, that reflects badly on Dilma. So, in the fond tradition of conspiracy theory, perhaps some Brazilian doctors also financed the trip to the US by the other defector. We’ll never know.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)