January 18, 2019 / 12:08 AM / 3 months ago

Venezuela to receive 2,000 Cuban doctors pulled from Brazil - Maduro

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to present his annual state of the nation in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will receive 2,000 Cuban doctors who left Brazil following a dispute between the Communist-run island and the government of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who ordered an end to their stay after taking office this year.

Bolsonaro said some 11,000 doctors were being used as “slave labour” and demanded that the Cuban government, which took 75 percent of their salaries, allow them to be paid in full and have their families join them.

Cuba refused and pulled the doctors out.

“Next week, we’re going to have a special event that celebrates the arrival of 2,000 new community doctors that Cuba is sending us. They are coming from Brazil,” President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised broadcast.

“Brazilian fascism ended the health plan, and the 2,000 doctors are coming to Venezuela,” he said.

Clinics run by Cuban doctors were a signature program of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who enjoyed an oil windfall during his 14-year rule that ended with his 2013 death from cancer. Venezuela paid for the medical services with shipments of oil.

Maduro, who has overseen a collapse of the once-booming economy, has faced growing complaints of decay in the health system and steady abandonment of the facilities once run by Cuban doctors. He did not give details about how Venezuela would pay for the doctors’ services.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Peter Cooney

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