Terezinha de Jesus thought her mother, Catarina, was finally getting the help her Alzheimer's required. In 2016, after years of only seeing doctors in cases of absolute emergency, 78-year-old Catarina was finally receiving regular care and attention through Mais Medicos, an enormously popular program that placed thousands of doctors in some of the country’s most violent and neglected communities.
For the de Jesus family, Mais Medicos meant that 18 doctors (16 of them Cuban) arrived to their town of Embu Guaçu, just southwest of São Paulo, and started providing the sort of healthcare that had long been out of reach to them.
Then Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidency.
On November 14, facing mounting thrweats from the newly elected president, Cuba announced it would repatriate over 8,300 doctors - nearly half the program's professionals - from Brazil. The Cuban goverment said Bolsonaro's "unacceptable conditions" made "it impossible to mantain the presence of Cuban professional in the program" Bolsonaro celebrated the announcement as a victory in his emerging war on leftist countries Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, but the hasty withdrawal has left a meteor-sized hole in healthcare for some of Brazil’s most vulnerable communities...