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Lula thanks Cubans for doctors programme

JAILED former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) praised Cubans for their generosity in a letter thanking the country for the “More Doctors” programme which provided healthcare to millions.

The Brazilian Workers Party (PT) leader wrote to the Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) explaining how the programme, which started in 2013, helped those in poor communities, many of whom had never seen a health professional.

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s comments attacking Cuban medics saw the programme brought to an end leaving up to 24 million Brazilians without access to healthcare. 

Lula warned that healthcare is not a commodity and cannot be treated as a business, praising the 11,000 Cuban doctors who came to Brazil for their “act of generosity and affection for others.”

“Many criticised the government of President Dilma Rousseff for bringing them. How nice it would be to be able to do without them! That Brazil had enough doctors to cover all the positions in the interior and the poor peripheries. 

“How good it would be if we had, like Cuba, enough doctors even to export them to other countries! It is very nice to see how a Latin American island exports doctors all over the world. It is better than what rich countries do, like exporting soldiers, or throwing bombs at poor communities. Cuba for its part exports life, love, health,” Lula continued.

He explained how before the PT came to power in Brazil, becoming a medical doctor was the exclusive preserve of the sons of the rich. 

However an extensive programme saw new opportunities for young people to study medicine which ran until the “administrative coup” against former President Dilma Rouseff.

Lula slammed the far-right Mr Bolsonaro for the discriminatory comments made against Cubans and lamented the collapse of the More Doctors programme which he warned would negatively affect the health of millions of poor Brazilians.

“I regret that the prejudice of the new government against Cubans has been more important than the health of Brazilians living in the most distant and needy communities,” he said.

Thanking the Cuban people, he said they can be very proud of their doctors and their medical schools, winning “millions of admirers, the gratitude of millions of people.”

“The bonds of fraternity existing between peoples are stronger than the irrational hatred of some representatives of the elite.

“It is the lesson given by the Cuban doctors in so many countries of the world and also here in Brazil. Thank you,” he concluded.


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