Cuban doctors working in the crisis-stricken country of Venezuela have revealed that the socialist regime told them they must only provide essential medical treatments to those supporting the sham election campaign of dictator Nicolás Maduro.
According to a report in the New York Times, which has repeatedly taken money from the Maduro regime in exchange for publishing anti-American advertisements, 16 doctors involved in Cuba’s medical missions in the country were told they must deny treatments to those opposing the regime and go door-to-door in impoverished neighborhoods and offer treatment to those who still support the socialist revolution.
One doctor detailed how he was warned not to treat a 65-year-old patient in need of emergency care for his heart failure because the required oxygen tanks had to be preserved for guaranteeing the support of potential voters in last May’s sham presidential election, where opposition candidates were banned from participating.
“I asked myself, ‘Why is a physician, someone who is meant to be on a humanitarian mission, having a part in who wins an election?’” said one doctor on the condition of anonymity. “This is called tampering. There is no other word for it.”
Another doctor, dental surgeon Dr. Carlos Ramírez, spoke of how they were left disgusted by such an obvious violation of the Hippocratic Oath.
“You arrived with vitamins and some pills for blood pressure,” said Ramírez, who has since defected to Ecuador. “And when you started to gain their trust, you started the questions: ‘Do you know where your voting place is? Are you going to vote?’”
Many Cuban doctors work in Venezuela as part of an agreement between the two regimes. Venezuela typically pays for the doctors in vast quantities of oil, an initiative that began under Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro and still continues to this day.
“With [late President Hugo] Chavez it had been hard, but with Maduro, starting in 2013, it was worse,” another Cuban doctor told the Times. “It became a form of blackmail: ‘You’re not going to have medicine. You’re not going to have free health care. You’re not going to have prenatal care if you’re a pregnant woman.’ ”
Medical internationalism has also been a key aspect of the Cuba foreign policy, with the regime sending around 52,000 medical workers in humanitarian missions to over 90 countries. Yet Cuban doctors have long complained that their work is effectively a form of slavery that forces them to earn negligible salaries as Cuban communist regime pockets a majority of profits.
According to a lawsuit filed by dozens of Cuban doctor in Brazil last year, benefitting countries pay Havana directly for the medical services while the doctors are provided with a stipend that barely covers living expenses.