Cuban doctor defects in Brazil over pay, seeks asylum
A Cuban doctor working in Brazil sought asylum on Wednesday complaining that Cuba's communist government takes too big a slice of her pay, authorities said.
Ramona Rodriguez, 51, sought refuge on Tuesday in the office of Ronaldo Caiado, leader of the center-right Democratas party in the lower chamber of Brazil's Congress, and slept the night on a sofa.
She is one of 7,378 Cubans who are in Brazil as part of a program that hires foreign doctors to tend the sick in slums and remote rural locations where there are no Brazilian physicians.
Under an agreement signed last year with Cuba through the Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO, the Cubans get only one-fifth of the 10,000 reais ($4,100) a month that Brazil pays each physician in the program. The rest goes to the Cuban state.
The Cubans get paid 800 reais in Brazil and 1,200 reais are deposited in an account in Cuba for their families, who are not allowed to accompany them to Brazil.
Rodriguez arrived in Brazil in October and was working in Pacajá, in the Amazon state of Pará, until she took off on the weekend and made her way to the Brazilian capital. She told Brazilian media she felt cheated.
Caiado, waving a copy of the PAHO contract in the air during a speech to the chamber, accused President Dilma Rousseff's government of exploiting the Cuban doctors like "slave labor."
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