In the early hours of November 23, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez greeted more than 200 Cuban doctors arriving in Havana from Brazil, as a consequence of Cuba’s decision to end participation in the More Doctors program. This was the first group of the more than 8,000 professionals offering their services in Brazil who will gradually return
“You return today as more than doctors, because in Brazil you not only saved lives, you also brought relief to the souls of a needy people, by giving your love, affection, and medical assistance,” stated Díaz-Canel, after the arrival of the Cubana flight to José Martí International Airport at 5:30am.
He continued saying that the welcome had been full of emotion: “When I saw them arriving, I thought of the thousands of stories that each one brought. How many feelings and experiences! The attitude they have assumed over these years of service honors the Cuban people.
“Seeing them, I thought of Fidel, since we are approaching the eve of another anniversary of his physical disappearance. The example you have given over these years of sacrifice, make possible our intention that his ideas and example endure. Welcoming you home is also a tribute to the Comandante en Jefe.”
“You have shown that a better world is possible,” Díaz-Canel said, while Minister of Public Health José Ángel Portal, offered “a warm welcome to the homeland, although, in reality, you never left; you took Cuba with you to the farthest corners of Brazil, to the poor, arid northeast, to the Amazon jungle, and to the interior of the neighborhoods on the outskirts where the poverty of big cities is hidden.
“We know you are mourning all that you left behind, the patient you needed to follow up on, the community where health indicators were beginning to change, and you are also concerned about what will happen to the Brazilians left without healthcare. This is how the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, taught you to think and act,” Portal continued.
For the Cuban President, the decision to discontinue participation in the More Doctors program was an honorable, courageous response that reflects the principles of our Revolution.
“It was impossible for us to stand idly by in the face of an arrogant government, unable to understand that our doctors came to their country to serve the people, to take care of their health and their souls, not to earn money.
“For that government everything is a commodity and this was not the reason thousands of Cuban doctors went. You went to Brazil defending your humanistic vocation, something that cannot be bought with all the money in the world. You went to assume positions that Brazilian doctors did not want, did not want to occupy, and you even went to places where residents had never before received medical assistance,” said Díaz-Canel.The reactionary position of newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro has left a part of his population vulnerable, risking the most precious thing every human being has, health, he said. However, "Cuba will never abandon Brazil, nor any other country in the world."The event was also attended by members of the Party Political Bureau Roberto Morales, a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, and Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs; as well as Víctor Gaute López, member of the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee; and national directors and officials of the Ministry of Public Health, among others.
MOVING STORIES"In the municipality where I offered my services, I found many families without medical care. I remember the elderly, the children, every person I attended with great affection. On more than one occasion they told me that only Cuban doctors were able to look their patients in the eye while they were assisting them, to give them humble, close treatment," said Dr. María Suárez Suárez during the welcome ceremony, on behalf of the hundreds of health workers returning to the island.
“In Brazil I was able to appreciate how the Cuban doctors, from the moment we arrived in the villages, most in remote, difficult to access areas, far from the big cities, became their only hope. For many residents of some municipalities, we were all the medical assistance they had received in their lives,” she said.“Today we return to Cuba with the satisfaction of having served a dear people, with experiences that will serve us for life, and the certainty of having done our duty,” she said.Likewise, Dr. Yuri Montero told the press, "I returned to Cuba because it was my duty. My son, my whole family, is here. During the time I was away, I served a community of approximately 5,000 people, in a remote municipality in the state of Minas Gerais. Although I created strong ties with all my patients, I cannot help but be happy to return to my land and my loved ones.”“After Bolsonaro questioned our professionalism and, in addition, imposed conditions on the participation of Cuba in the Mais Médicos program, I knew that the decision to return would be inevitable. This first move was a success, very organized, with no problems,” said the young doctor Yamisleydi Guerra.“Leaving Brazil is heartbreaking,” Yarima Lastres, a Comprehensive General Medicine specialist and one of the 200 collaborators returning to the island, told Granma International"The most precious thing that I bring back with me is a simple gift, handmade by one of the inhabitants of Rio Negrinho, a small town in the state of Santa Catarina, in the south of the country."“We barely had time to say goodbye. He could only quickly do this little metalwork detail, a chime, in the shape of a heart, with small stones embedded in the center, typical of that area of Brazil," she said while holding it in her hands. “He asked me to deliver it to our government, as a sign of gratitude for the care he received from Cuban doctors," she said smiling.