A contingent of Cuban doctors sent in 2020 to help in the covid-19 response. Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

Members of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) have alleged that the salaries of Cuban doctors recently hired by the leftist government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) may be higher than those of their Mexican counterparts, based on the previous salaries that they purportedly received when a large contingent of physicians from Cuba arrived in Mexico City in 2020 to help with the covid-19 response.

Julen Rementería, a PAN senator for the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, produced a document in May of this year that allegedly indicated the amount of money allocated to pay for the services of doctors from Cuba who arrived in the country in 2020, as well as their lodging, which was said to have amounted to more than 255 million pesos.

PAN investigators alleged that the Cuban doctors were paid around 145,000 pesos a month, compared to Mexican medical specialists who, according to the PAN report, receive a monthly salary of 17,000.

But according to Nueva Sociedad, a Latin American journal of social sciences, the data presented by the PAN in its internal investigation was not entirely accurate. The Cuban doctors, according to the journal, would have only received a maximum monthly salary of 36,000 — but still double the salary that the PAN report estimated a Mexican medical specialist earns per month.

In May of 2020, at least 500 health workers from Cuba arrived in Mexico City, to help tackle the then-raging covid-19 pandemic in the capital. It was the largest medical contingent that Cuba had deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.

The U.S. State Department at that time called the Cuban medical-aid program “abusive,” and argued that the health workers that Cuba sent abroad were not paid. The Cuban government countered that all the doctors in the program volunteered and were paid adequately.

Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum, in May of 2020, publicly acknowledged the presence of “several” Cuban doctors working at that time in various Mexico City hospitals to help augment the shortfall of medical staff. Sheinbaum, however, did not confirm the scale of the deployment.

In his regular morning press conference on Wednesday, July 27, López Obrador said that Cuban doctors hired by the federal government will earn the same salary and receive the same benefits as their Mexican counterparts.

“They are going to earn the same as Mexican doctors, and they are going to receive the same benefits that Mexicans get, that we Mexicans get,” AMLO said. “We all have to protect ourselves, whether Mexicans or foreigners, and it is very helpful because we need doctors, generalists and specialists.”

The first 54 Cuban doctors to arrive in the country were deployed on Saturday, July 23, in Tepic, the capital and largest city of the western Mexican state of Nayarit.

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