PANAMA CITY: Facing opposition from the United States, a delegation of 220 Cuban health care workers landed in Panama on Thursday to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
In this fight against covid-19, Cuban medics will “reinforce the health system,” Panama’s health ministry said on Twitter.
Panama declared on Dec 15 that, amid a law limiting medical profession to residents, it will recruit physicians from Cuba, the US, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia to fight the pandemic.
With more than 220,000 cases of Covid-19 and over 3,600 deaths among its 4.2 million people, Panama is Central America’s worst affected region.
But Michael Kozak, Washington’s acting assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, met with opposition to the declaration.
Governments who employ Cuban medical staff must guarantee their equal and humane treatment — in stark contrast to the Castro regime, which traffics in, and uses, the workers’ courage for its own gains,” Kozak tweeted on Dec 21. “Make contracts transparent and pay workers directly.” The US is Panama’s biggest political and economic partner.
“Havana’s detractors, including Washington, who accused Cuba of “slave labour” and used the medics as a propaganda tool, branded Cuba’s practise of hiring out its world-renowned health care workers as “white coat diplomacy.
“Our White Coat Heroes have arrived in Panama,” Cuba’s Panama embassy said on Twitter alongside a video of people sporting white coats and holding the Cuban flag.