“People deserve health wherever they come from: from Cuba, from the United States, from Russia, from Taiwan […]. What we do not deserve is that they hide everything and do not disclose it in time.”
If there is ever an unpopular minister in President Neto Cortizo’s government, it is Luis Francisco Sucre, the powerful health minister. She criticized the epidemic management for imposing its political criteria on any technical reason and for its ill-considered measures, especially in managing the economy, ignoring experts on the subject. As celebrity doctors Daniel Bechel, Xavier Saez Lorenz, and Julio Sandoval pointed out a few days ago: Curfews and quarantines have basically damaged the economy. The fact that businesses are closed does not affect, nor stop the expansion of COVID-19, but crowds on public transportation and uncontrolled illegal activities, including some “tolerance” for PRD members.
According to many, the mismanagement that Sucre faced with the pandemic now contrasts with the obfuscation with which he dealt with the presence of Cuban “doctors” who arrived in disguise in Panama on Christmas Eve 2020. They said there were 220 “doctors”, but they never explained what their specialties were and what If they are all doctors, nurses, or assistants.
The media reported that the Cubans were hired for $600,000 per month, but the distribution of this money was unfair. Each worker, as it is known, receives $400, and the Havana system gets about $2,300 per overseas employee. How can this relationship be rehabilitated? Atrocity. A clear violation of the human rights of these “doctors”, who do not receive fair pay for their supposed work. The return of slavery in the twenty-first century.
On December 28, 2020, I sent a note to Minister Sucre so that he could, as permitted by Article 41 of the National Constitution and Law No. 6 of 2002 on Transparency in Public Administration, inform me of the total number of Cuban “doctors” in Panama? At first they said there were 220 and then there were 230. He also asked for a list of “doctors” and their suitability and specialty. It included the date on which the national authorities examined these “doctors” and requested a copy of the agreement signed with Cuba. Zero response.
On May 4, before the announcement of the renewal of the initial contract signed with the Cuban “doctors”, I sent a new letter to Minister Sucre, containing the initial questions. Another zero to answer.
Faced with silence, with Minister Sucre’s apparent lack of transparency, on March 1, I filed a petition to bring statements against him so that the High Court of Justice would force him to respond to me. The judge rapporteur is Luis Ramon Fabrega. In an article published in the same newspaper, on June 29, 2021, I questioned Minister Sucre’s ambiguity. Finally, the aforementioned official speculated to respond on July 8, through his department’s head of legal affairs. In response, they said that they could not give me the requested information because it was “strictly protected by the secrecy to which Panama and Cuba must comply”. Legally, they might be right, but as always, something is off.
In that reply, it was said that on June 9, 2021, the said agreement was approved by Resolution No. 68 of the Council of Ministers. In other words, when the “doctors” arrived in Panama, surprisingly in December 2020, there was no agreement at all. This made me ask the Comptroller General of the Republic whether he had allowed payments to be made to Cuba without a present agreement. Doing so would have no legal basis.
The issue of the Cuban “doctors” was treated with great ambiguity. So much so that when he asked the director of the Social Security Fund, Dr. Enrique Lau, he said he didn’t know where they were.
Why are the medical unions in the country committed to this issue? People deserve health wherever they come from: from Cuba, from the United States, from Russia, from Taiwan or from any other country. What we do not deserve is that everything is hidden and not revealed in time. What do they want to hide? If one of the geniuses we have the rule of tomorrow brings up shamans, witches, or babalaos to help them, maybe we won’t be able to ask about their expertise either?