These past few days, doctors lending their services in Bolivia and Ecuador have returned to the homeland, leaving behind their patients, families with few resources, but very grateful to those who treated their ailments, living as neighbors in their communities.
“We have lived days of deep sadness, of harassment, of physical mistreatment,” said Dr. Nirza García Valdés, a General Surgery specialist, who worked in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, referring to the period immediately following the coup against President Evo Morales Ayma.
“But even in the moments of greatest danger, we did not weaken. We stayed in our positions until the last moment, supporting the health of the sister Bolivian people until it was no longer possible to continue,” said García, a native of Bayamo, in the province of Granma.
“We return victorious. We do not feel defeated. We come with our heads held high, with our mission accomplished, because no coup, nor any regime that may take charge of Bolivia’s fate, can erase our impact.
“The lives saved are there, the grateful patients are there, and the results achieved by Cuba and its international collaboration will always be there.”
Alfredo Escobar Bernal, gastroenterologist, thanked the Cuban government for not abandoning brigade members to suffer the consequences of the coup in Bolivia on their own.
When the coup was consummated, he explained, he was in Santa Cruz and lived moments of uncertainty, along with other colleagues, given the tension that eventually triggered very serious confrontations among Bolivians.
“There were situations in which we felt the support of people who recognize the value of Cuban collaboration, but at other times, supporters of the coup took advantage of our presence to defame Evo Morales and his government.
“I had no doubt that, at all times, we were protected by our country’s authorities through diplomatic channels, and by personnel responsible for the medical mission. They were always aware of our safety.”
As of November 18, 431 health professionals had returned to the country from Bolivia, with the arrival of another group expected shortly. Also returning are members of the Cuban medical brigade in Ecuador, where the government cancelled the bilateral agreement in this sector.
Earlier this month, before the UN General Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla clarified that our country’s health collaboration programs, which are facing attacks by the current United States administration, are serving “the neediest communities, based on the solidarity and completely voluntary disposition of hundreds of thousands of Cuban professionals; conducted as established in cooperation agreements signed with the governments of these countries; and have enjoyed, for many years, the recognition of the international community, of this organization itself and the World Health Organization, as an outstanding example of South-South Cooperation.”