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News > Latin America

Brazil: Bolsonaro Threatens to Cut Ties With Cuba

  • Far-right, recently-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

    Far-right, recently-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 November 2018

The statements were made in an interview with a local newspaper as the president-elect criticized Brazil's More Doctors program. 

Brazil's far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro told local newspaper Friday there was no point maintaining diplomatic relations with Cuba, arguing the island's government trampled on human rights.

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Bolsonaro's threat comes a day after United States National Security advisor, John Bolton, praised Jair Bolsonaro saying that his election is a "positive sign" for the region to later attack the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua accusing them of being a "troika of tyranny".

In an interview published by Correio Braziliense newspaper, Bolsonaro criticized the Cuban-supported Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program, founded in 2013, under which over 11,000 Cuban doctors work in impoverished or remote parts of Brazil in an effort to expand the country's healthcare coverage.

According to the Bolsonaro, 75 percent of the Cuban doctors' salaries is paid to the Cuban government and their children were "not allowed" to join them in Brazil. "That is just torture for a mother... Can we maintain diplomatic relations with a country that treats its people that way?" Bolsonaro, who has endorsed torture and promised to further militarize Brazil' internal security said in the interview. 

The distribution of payment between the state and doctors helps Cuba sustain the country's public health and education system, which in turn benefits present and future generations of Cuban citizens.  

Bolsonaro was elected last Sunday and will take office on Jan. 1. An important shift in Brazil's foreign policy is expected given that his economy minister, Eduardo Guedes, already stated that "Argentina and Mercosur are not a priority" and the president-elect confirmed Brazil will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, following the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump despite worldwide condemnations.

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