Cuban doctors are under attack from racist Brazilian elite; anger provoked by two of the right’s favorite targets: blacks and Cubans

Cuban doctor Juan Delgado arrives in Fortaleza, Brazil to the sound of boos
Cuban doctor Juan Delgado arrives in Fortaleza, Brazil to the sound of boos

Note from BW of Brazil: The topic of several articles over the past few weeks, Brazil’s “Mais Médicos” program to attract foreign doctors to the country and address the pressing problem of a doctor shortage has highlighted another glaring shortage: the presence of black doctors in the country. A number of articles have called out the country’s elitism of the medical field, perhaps no better than the article below. If you haven’t heard about this situation, please DO check out previous articles on the topic here or in the various links throughout the article.

Cuban doctors are under attack from racist Brazilian elite
On one airplane there are more black doctors that all of Brazilian history

(article courtesy of the PCO website)

Black Cuban doctors arrived in Brazil for the “Mais Médicos (More Doctors)” program by the federal government. Their arrival sparked deep anger throughout the national right, especially by joining together two things the right campaigns most against: blacks and Cubans.

A right accustomed to impeding that blacks from even getting into college, let alone to study medicine, took the swords from the scabbards and declared war on the Cuban. At first, the right presented itself, as usual, as the queen of morality and righteousness, saying that there were irregularities in the contract with the Cubans, that it was absurd how they were hired.

All went well, the government was bowing to pressure from the right as usual, but then what happens is what the image in this material portrays: a group of white doctors resolve to boo a black doctor who came to the country for the implementation of the program (photo above).

The bourgeois press encouraged the protests and in other places there were more boos registered for the black doctors who, in some cases were called “escravos (slaves)” for being at the service of their country. The Conselho Federal de Medicina (Federal Council of Medicine or CFM) also stood against the program. A blue eyed columnist of a São Paulo newspaper titled the story on the subject, calling it “Avião negreiro (slave plane).” Another journalist from Rio Grande do Norte, said on her Facebook that the Cuban doctors looked like maids, which supposedly put into question their medical capability and therefore didn’t deserve to be trusted.

Given these events, the right hastened to say that “it’s not racism”, but protests against the regime of slavery in which Cubans live, although no Cuban has been consulted about anything, and in spite of the right closing their eyes to cases of real slavery, which proves their cynicism.

It’s worth remembering that Cuban doctors hardly go through what they are going through in Brazil, being booed and being called slaves. Quite to the contrary, they are treated with honor where they go, especially due to the development of the medical field in Cuba.

The photo comes to have an historical character, because it shows that there is an elite well accustomed to “booing” blacks, meaning that blacks do the heaviest service of society, cleaning, carrying, sweeping, but never exercising in the area of medicine.

For anyone who has seen photos of the first blacks entering universities in the southern US where slavery existed as here, the comparisons are inevitable.

Little Rock é aqui - ódio social e racial

From one point of view, one can say that they are even being treated “well” because blacks from other countries (African, Haitian, and others) generally hardly pass through the Federal Police in airports, many others simply live as many of our blacks: in the streets.

More black physicians in a plane than in a country

For normal people, workers, blacks, to the youth, obviously a hint of pride comes to see that there are black doctors, and in reasonable quantities and unquestionable quality.

In Brazil there was not one, but several scholars – bought or not – who insist on saying that there is no racism in the country. Nevertheless, if there is no racism, there are no black doctors, this given that Brazil has a huge black population. Maybe that was what caused the most revulsion of the right.

The final balance of history that permeates the material, but nobody talks about, is that it has more black doctors in the “fearsome” Cuban regime than in the starving democracy of Brazil, and perhaps not even in another 30 years will we manage to get close, having in view the indices of blacks who graduate in medicine in the country. On this subject, this is the error of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores, Workers’ Party, party of the current president) government, which doesn’t manage with all its demagogy, to minimally improve the situation the black population, as indeed the Cuban regime did.

Also one should not get carried away by what the bourgeois press says, nor the middle class, which arranges pretexts to hide the racism of their narrow-minded ideas. The majority of the population sees with very good eyes the presence of doctors on the interior of the country, even with this being the minimum offered by the government; a population that also repudiated the typical racist manifestations of the white Brazilian elite.

Source: PCO

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. The problem of the anger against the foreigners doctors is deeper then the discussion here and in other posts about the subject.
    Thearticles from right wing say the government is racist and has a lobby with Cuban government
    The articles from left say the upper class is racist against Cuban and black.

    Enough of this cliche.

    The positive point of the Dilma project is to bring doctors to areas where has none. Everyone agrees with it.

    My questions which none of these articles had answered:

    – why Cubans ( mostly black – but not all) are earning less then the 10.000 reais?
    – why Cubans ( mostly black- but not all) cannot bring their families?
    – why Argentinians, Portuguese and now Spanish (mostly white) can bring the family?
    – why Cubans accept this lower standard?
    – why Argentinians, Portuguese and now Spanish will earn the 10.000?
    – why the government hadn’t opened to Angola and mocambique before open to Spain?
    – why Brazilian government hadn’t opened to other Latin American countries?

    Who elect Dilma in last election where the remote areas. She knows that. Why suddenly the goverment has money to invest in those remote areas just one year before election.

    most of the hospitals in the big cities has a lack of needles, basic materials to keep the patients safe. If talk estatisticly if she invest this money in the big cities she would save more lifes. I am not saying a person from the city has more value than someone from remote area. We know it is not about saving life’s only. It has a massive political interest. Partly it is this the reason why the medical students mostly white are angry. Because they do internship in the public hospitals and they can’t work. Because they don’t have the minimal.

    I think both sides are manipulating their arguments. I have no problem in understand Dilma political intention in suddenly help the people in remote areas. I as well understand the revolt of those students who has no condition of work in the big cities public hospitals.

    We all know the main reason we don’t have basic material to work in public hospitals is corruption.

    The discussion should be focused in:

    -The main reason Cubans doctors are earning less money and can’t bring their families is corruption? Isn’t a racism to pay them less?

    -I think we should fight for a better place to the Cubans doctors with equal salaries and rights to bring their families. We should fight for their respect as foreigners who are coming to help.

    -We should fight for more money inside the hospitals to give minimal conditions of work for all the nurses and doctors inside the big cities where most of people are living.

    – We should fight for a less corrupted country. Who keep stealing from the very poor and vulnerable people.

  2. The elite of Brazil are like the elite in this country. Anything that will enrich the Blacks in that country will be met with distain!

  3. Brasilenos love to say that there is no racism. Even one of the tourist guides I read when I was there commented on this pretense. And yet, in Botofoga, a section of Rio where we stayed for two weeks in September 2010, the only obvious African descendants were the nurse maids, and at our hostel, the domestic help. The election of Dilma would take place a few days after our departure. I noticed that most of those running for office (there were pictures and placards everywhere), were not African, and yet, the one African descendant running for something was the only candidate who had to share a placard. Brasil imported more Africans than any and all other countries put together. It also made a point of importing Europeans so there would be no opportunity for the African population to achieve any power. La lucha continue!

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