Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cuba to withdraw thousands of doctors from Brazil (Nov. 15, 2018)

Cuba said it will pull over 8,000 doctors posted in some of Brazil's neediest communities, after president-elect Jair Bolsonaro criticized the Mais Medicos program they work in. Bolsonaro said the terms, in which the Cuban government keeps the bulk of the payment for the program, is unacceptable, and said he'd require the doctors receive the totality of the salary the Brazilian government pays.

Ending the program would leave about 24 million Brazilians  medical attention. The program was brokered by former President Dilma Rousseff's administration via the Pan-American Health Organization.  Since August 2013, nearly 20,000 Cuban doctors have treated 113.5 million Brazilians. 

The move will also impact Cuba's budget, which obtains significant revenue from "exporting" doctors around the world. Similar programs operate in dozens of countries, and Cuba said the billions of dollars of revenue it generates for the government are used to keep the country's free health care system running. 

Bolsonaro also questioned the Cuban doctors' credentials, and said he'd require them to revalidate their diplomas in Brazil. 

Bolsonaro criticized that Cuban doctors are not permitted to bring their families abroad with them -- a clause that has been controversial in recent years. 

Cuba’s health ministry rejected Bolsonaro’s comments as "contemptuous and threatening to the presence of our doctors."


Mexico's new Security Plan

Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador presented the incoming administration's national "peace and security" plan. Though the plan promises a "reformulation" of the war on drugs, it would still lean on the country's armed forces to provide internal security. López Obrador said the decision was taken given the extreme lack of professionalism and integrity that afflicts the country's police forces. The incoming administration will create a national guard and seek a constitutional reform to regulate its actions, reports Animal Político

But AMLO promised the focus would be on addressing the roots of insecurity and violence, rather than confronting existing criminal groups, reports Bloomberg.

The move comes as Mexico's Supreme Court is leaning towards overthrowing last year's Law of Internal Security, which ratified the controversial use of the armed forces for public safety. (See yesterday's post.)

Incoming security secretary Alfredo Durazo emphasized the need to establish "radical" and multidimensional policies, rather than exclusively focus on military repression of insecurity. The incoming administration will target corruption and promote development, including job creation. He also said the incoming administration will likely stop targeting certain illicit narcotics, whose prohibition has become unsustainable.

AMLO's administration has said separately that it will legalize cannabis. (See last Thursday's briefs and also Tuesday's.)

The Wall Street Journal has a focus on the violence afflicting Mexico, which it compares to the region's dirty wars: 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.

News Briefs

  • Venezuela is facing a devastating health crisis whose extent its government continues to deny, Human Rights Watch said in a report. Public health experts document the spread of diseases like measles, diphtheria, malaria and tuberculosis -- and how these are worsened by increasing levels of malnutrition. 
More from México
  • A group of Mexican organizations of civil society accused the Peña Nieto administration of faking achievements agreed upon with experts as part of the Alianza para el Gobierno Abierto. (Animal Político)
  • The entire town of Chavajeval in Chiapas has fled after an armed attack. About 2,000 people, mostly members of indigenous tzotzil communities fled their home last week. (Animal Político)
  • The first wave of caravan migrants -- about 800 -- is already at the Tijuana border, and thousands more are expected over the next few days. It marks the beginning of a new phase in their journey, as the Central Americans prepare to make their cases to U.S. authorities, settle in Mexico, or cross illegally, reports the New York Times.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. troops mass on the other side of the border, a deployment critics say is merely a political stunt, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales requested a meeting with his Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega. Ortega is in Guatemala for the Ibero-American heads of state summit. (El Periódico)
Chapo trial
  • The Sinaloa cartel's former chief accountant testified in the trial against Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Jesús Zambada García said his brother, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and Guzman were considered the top leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.  The Guardian calls his testimony in New York yesterday "enthralling." The New York Times said it was "a master class on the inner workings of the trafficking operation," rife with details over how the cartel organized massive shipments of cocaine from Colombia, with assistance from law enforcement allies. How much cocaine? Prosecutors said he moved enough coke to cut a line for every American, reports the Daily Beast
  • Guzmán's defense sought to shift blame to Zambada, saying he was the true leader of the Sinaloa cartel and was protected by millions of dollars of bribes paid to Mexico's highest officials. The judge rebuked the defense for alleging the current and former presidents of Mexico were recipients of those bribes. (Associated Press and AFP) (More analysis at CNN Español - Carmen Aristegui interviews Anabel Hernández)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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