The plaintiffs in the case also argued that most of the doctors’ pay could go to the Cuban government, not to the medical professionals themselves.
The identity of those who requested the precautionary measure was not revealed. But several professional and medical groups have criticized the plan, which was announced by the president on May 9.
The agreement with the Cuban government was negotiated “without having verified the quality of the doctors, and without having validated their training, as required by the applicable regulations, and without accrediting knowledge of the diseases and endemics of the Mexican population,” according to the presentation.
“Hiring is illegal, because it favors conditions of modern slavery and even human trafficking,” he continued.
Cuba has sent doctors to many countries. But in many places where they operate, Cuban doctors receive only a fraction of the salaries paid by the host country, with the lion’s share going to the Cuban government.
The injunction process will continue with a detailed hearing on the complaint, which will take place in June.
López Obrador wants Cubans to practice in underserved rural communities. But Mexican doctors said they should be hired first, before foreigners are brought in. Some have complained that Mexican doctors are ready, but the bureaucracy with medical certifications has slowed them down.
López Obrador has a political and sentimental attachment to Cuba, and in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, some 500 Cuban doctors who were not specialists were hired to work in Mexico.
Mexico has a shortage of specialists such as cardiologists and anesthesiologists, mainly in poor, violent or rural areas where it is less attractive for them to live. The country has about 107 specialists per 100,000 inhabitants, well below the recommended international level of 230.
López Obrador has vowed to try to hire as many Mexican specialists as are available.
Mexico’s underfunded public health sector has been plagued for decades by low wages and cumbersome hiring practices. Some specialists earn as little as $1,000 a month at government hospitals and supplement their income by working part-time at private hospitals.
Since most private hospitals are located in big cities, that makes it even more difficult to attract specialists to isolated outlying areas.