Cuban Doctor Files Lawsuit in Brazil

Saturday, February 8, 2014
From Cafe Fuerte (translation by Havana Times):

Cuban MD to File Suit in Brazil

Ramona Matos Rodríguez , the Cuban doctor who left the “More Doctors” program in Brazil, has opened a Pandora’s Box.

After leaving the doctor’s office where she had been located in the remote Pacajás municipality in the northern Brazilian state of Pará, the Cuban sought protection in the heart of Brazilian politics, the capital Brasilia.

Politicians of the Partido Democratas (DEM), in opposition to the government of President Dilma Rousseff, immediately gave their support to the doctor, seeking the advantages in politics these types of cases tend to provide, especially in an election year.

Matos, who remains hosted on the premises of the Chamber of Deputies, was presented to the parliament, and her case taken to an emergency meeting with the Minister of Justice, the Brazilian Lawyers Association and the Public Ministry, besides receiving considerable media attention .

Legal Action

The latest action from DEM, announced its leader Mendonca Filho, is to file a suit at the Ministry of Labor in which Matos demands the portion of her salary (nearly 90%) that goes to the Cuban government.

Payment to members of the Cuban mission takes place through a web of contracts signed between the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Distributor of Cuban Medical Services S.A.

Matos will also request compensation for alleged moral damages. She says she is “deeply deceived” after she was presented with a contract in Cuba for $1,000 a month of which $400 would be paid to her in Brazil and $600 deposited on the island. She claims that it wasn’t until after her arrival in Brazil that she learned the real amount budgeted for the program’s participants is around US $4,200.

“Brazilian law provides that any person who has the value of their work reduced is suffering unequal treatment and has the right to claim moral damages,” said the DEM Rep. Mendonça Filho who is advising the Cuban doctor in this action.

Beyond the individual suit by Matos, the opposition party plans to present a class action suit against More Doctors, the banner program of Rousseff in the field of public health. This suit would cover all Cuban doctors, forcing the Brazilian government to reimburse them the full value of their wages.

In an interview with the newspaper O Globo, Labor Ministry prosecutor Sebastião Caixeta, said he agreed with the claims of Dr. Matos and said in the coming days he will submit a report recommending the full payment of salaries for Matos and the more than five thousand Cubans who are currently working in Brazil in the More Doctors program.

According to Caixeta, the employment contracts revealed by Matos, signed by Cuban professionals and the Distributor of Cuban Medical Services SA, proves that this is not just a simple scholarship grant, but of common labor relations governed by the laws of the country.