“Everybody needs to know the reality of the More Doctors program”
Dr. Ramona Matos told Radio Martí of her reasons for escaping the Cuban delegation in Brazil.
Dr. Ramona Matos abandoned the Cuban delegation of Brazil’s “More Doctors” social program because she felt cheated.
“In our country we were given a contract for a thousand dollars. That is 400 here (Brazil) and 600 there (Cuba). When I got here, I talked with other doctors of other nationalities who were in the program. I inquired how much Brazil paid Cuba for each of us, and I realized that it was 10,000 Brazilian reais. Of that, we only receive 800, 900 reais per month,” she said exclusively to Marti Noticias journalist, Pedro Corzo.
Matos, a general medicine practitioner, explained, “Doctors from other countries are paid ten thousand reais. Others are paid fifteen thousand. Still others are paid more, depending on where they are.”
It was a very difficult decision to make. “[It was] extremely painful, because I left my daughter, who is a doctor, in Cuba; my tiny granddaughter and I fear for their safety.” However, she said that she did it, “so everyone knows the reality of the More Doctors and how the Cuban government works.”
When Matos decided to abandon the mission in Brazil, she sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in that country. The Department of Homeland Security along with the Department of State launched the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program in 2006. According to the DOS website, this program “would allow Cuban medical personnel conscripted to study or work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government to enter the United States.”
Matos says that the program is unknown in Cuba. “No, I did not know about it. That has never been made public. I learned about it here.”
The embassy interviewed her and took their documentation. “They told me I had to wait three or four months here, quiet, hidden, and then they were going to give me the result, whether it was positive or negative.”
After the interview, Dr. Matos set out to the house where she was living, but was warned by some friends via telephone. “They told me that the federal police were looking for me to deport me. I decided to call some contacts that I met on the Internet and through the program More Doctors. I called one person who helped me get in touch with Congress. I spoke with them, so that they would give me protection and they brought me here [to the headquarters of Brazil’s opposition party Democratas, or DEM].”
Matos said she knows that the Cuban authorities monitor her, but feels protected by the deputies and expects to be given a solution to her problem. She indicated that she is no longer in hiding, but instead is protected by the DEM and her case is already public.
The interview Dr. Matos granted to Martí Noticias reporter Pedro Corzo was made possible by the collaboration of Professor Jorge Fonseca and Dr. Carlos Jorge in Brazil.