A group of 226 Cuban doctors left Bolivia this Saturday for their country from the Viru Viru International Airport in the city of Santa Cruz, following the accusations of the Bolivian interim authorities against these citizens for their alleged links to the protests in Bolivia.
At a press conference at the airport’s migration offices, the director of Interpol in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, Colonel Rolando Millares, pointed out that in this first group there were 226 Cubans, “all doctors.”
Millares added that in coordination with the Cuban consulate, “protection” is being provided to all these groups of citizens who are arriving from different parts of Bolivia to go to the airport in Santa Cruz.
A Cubana de Aviación plane took off at approximately 11.00 local time with the Cubans on board, whose departure the Bolivian Interim Foreign Minister Karen Longaric had advanced this Friday.
Longaric explained last Friday that Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez himself had confirmed that “in order not to exasperate the situation any longer and not damage relations,” they had decided to “withdraw from Bolivia 725 Cubans working in different areas of cooperation.”
The Bolivian transition government of Jeanine Áñez reported the arrest of four Cuban members of the medical brigade, who according to the authorities would have been financing the protests that have been registered since the October 20 elections in Bolivia.
The Cuban government denied that the members of its mission in Bolivia are encouraging or financing the protests of Evo Morales’ followers and demanded evidence, the release of the detainees and guarantees for the safety of all its personnel.
The Cubans of this first group that traveled this Saturday had been in Bolivia for three years and others only a few months.
Millares said that “Cubans who are in the country are concentrating here in Santa Cruz and from here they will leave” for Cuba and that after coordination with the consulate, more citizens from the island are expected to leave in the coming days.
Viru Viru is Bolivia’s main international airport, from which most of the flights take off for other countries.
In Bolivia, which with the arrival of Evo Morales to power became one of Cuba’s main allies in the region, more than 700 Cubans were posted, mostly providing medical services as well as in other sectors.
The protests in Bolivia have already left a toll of 20 dead and more than 500 injured in clashes since the elections, in which Morales was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term, among allegations of fraud.
An audit of the Organization of American States (OAS) noted “serious irregularities” and asked that the elections be repeated, after which Morales announced his resignation to the Presidency last Sunday and traveled to Mexico on Monday as an exile.