On January 8, Bolivian Communication Minister Roxana Lizárraga said that about 700 presumed Cuban doctors, who were working in Bolivia as part of a health agreement signed by former President Evo Morales, weren’t qualified to practice, because they lacked the necessary degrees or had fraudulent ones, and that their true mission in the South American nation was intelligence work.
“We waited for the right time to disclose that part of this team coming from Cuba weren’t doctors, they didn’t practice as doctors […]. We were able to confiscate several of their degrees that were forged to make it seem as if they were doctors,” said Lizárraga.
The minister added that Morales’ distrust in Bolivian authorities led him to put the security of the Bolivian State in the hands of Cubans and Venezuelans, and that the economic damage to the country was high.
“The economic damage is enormous, because there was no investment in health. There were investments to fund intelligence personnel,” Lizárraga said.
Bolivian Health Minister Aníbal Cruz attended the press conference where the information was revealed. He said he had physical evidence (documents, videos, and photographs) that backed the accusations.
Cruz said that these alleged doctors had “objectives that were more about indoctrination […], using an excessive amount of assets and budget.” He added that citizens were the ones most affected since health is a critical matter.
At the end of 2019, Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said that authorities had caught four presumed Cuban doctors with about $100,000, money that, according to local authorities, would have been used to fund riots in Bolivia. Havana said the money was meant for the medical mission’s payroll and rent.
Days later, Cuban authorities announced in a press release the withdrawal of 700 doctors from Bolivia, alleging that they were targets of attacks by the interim government of President Jeanine Áñez.