Blunder: Cuba’s Cancellation of Medical Assistance to Brazil Erodes Bolsonaro’s Support

Supporters of Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro attend a demonstration at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker - RC14AA011070
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A few days ago, the famously effective More Doctors program was terminated by the Cuban government, in Brazil. The Cuban government believed it had little choice due to the actions and statements of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, after his promises to change the terms and conditions.

According to economist Aleksandr Chichin, director of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences of the Academy of National Economy and Public Service with the Russian Presidency, the Cuban decision to close the program was “absolutely unexpected.”

He says that Jair Bolsonaro’s motives are the alleged absence of democracy in Cuba, are completely “invented,” eventually leading to the end of the program, which will affect almost 30 million people.

The expert also saw a parallel in the policy of dismantling the peace process with Cuba initiated by Barack Obama by the current American president Donald Trump, since the Bolsonaro team will evidently have a more pro-US lean.

“Suddenly he [Bolsonaro] also has some complaints against Cuba, which served the Brazilian people in good faith at a time when Lula and Dilma Rousseff were carrying out their social projects, when they took Brazil off the list of the poorest countries,” he said, noting that Cuban doctors, having been taught by the Soviet specialists, are still one of the most qualified in the world.

For the expert, the whole process related to the closing of the program seems more a simple process of “expulsion”.

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“It is also a great blow against the Cuban reputation,” he said. “Of course, as an ally, this country [Brazil] now becomes a propagator of US anti-Cuban policy,” he asserted, saying that if anyone once had “any illusions” about Jair Bolsonaro’s future, it has now “become evident.”

“The end of relations has come, which is, in fact, another step towards the economic suffocation of Cuba, which can barely survive, with zero real growth, with no possibility of gaining foreign currency,” he said.

Another expert, political scientist specializing in Latin American affairs at St. Petersburg State University, Viktor Jeifeits, also predicted the possible consequences of the step.

“In some regions of the country, this can lead to a reduction in the number of medical services provided to the population. Cuban specialists were willing to work on the program, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find your fellow Brazilians with the same qualifications,” he said.

Still, according to him, nowadays “the rhetoric of Bolsonaro can turn against his own people”.

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