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Cuba president greets returning doctors after Brazil feud

AFP  |  Havana 

Miguel Diaz-personally welcomed back doctors at airport, a local newspaper reported, as 200 returned from following a spat between the two Latin American countries' leaders.

announced last week it was pulling its doctors out of a medical aid program to following criticism of the island-nation by the South American giant's new far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

"Early on Friday, the apostles of Cuban health returned home," wrote Diaz-on Twitter, paying "tribute to the men and women who made history in " The first of more than 8,000 doctors working in Brazil started returning last week to be welcomed at airport by Cuba's deputy health minister,

The doctors are due to return to their homeland by December 10. The program was started five years ago when Brazil was in the hands of

Those returning on Friday held flags from the two countries.

"We're returning today as our colleagues will, with all the honour and dignity of the world," one doctor told newspaper.

"We will never allow threats nor that anyone questions the humanity and professionalism with which we attended to our Brazilian patients." The feud erupted after Bolsonaro, who is due to assume office on January 1, accused of keeping most of the money Brazil was paying for the doctors' salaries.

He also said he would make changes to the program to include a competency test for Cuban medical personnel wanting to work in Brazil.

He has offered to directly hire those doctors wishing to remain in Brazil.

Cuba pays its foreign-based doctors 30 percent of what it receives for their services but says it puts the rest into the state coffers that provide free and universal health care for all its citizens.

The export of skilled workers is Cuba's primary resource generator and used to be worth USD 10 billion a year to the impoverished country, although that number has dropped considerably over the last few years due to the economic crisis in Venezuela, which employs thousands of Cuban doctors.

Cuba's "white coat diplomacy" was introduced under late ruler and spread to 67 countries.

A Brazilian diplomatic source told AFP last week that 2,000 Cuban doctors were expected to remain in the country.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 23 2018. 20:20 IST
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