Monday, June 8, 2020

Cuban Physicians Abroad Face Lack of Pay During Pandemic



Having served as Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University, Dr. Jorge I. Domínguez also had a research emphasis on Cuban politics and society. Dr. Jorge I. Domínguez continues to maintain a strong interest in developments in the Communist island nation during a time of pandemic and increased economic hardship.

The export of medical support and knowledge is a key hard currency earner for Cuba, but a recent article in the Miami Herald brought attention to a claim by several Cuban physicians working in Algeria that they had not received pay since March. This came just after Algeria made public that it pays $70 million to Cuba each year for the services of nearly 900 doctors, which amounts to $79,000 annually for each physician procured.

Of this amount, physicians receive approximately $900 a month, with $350 directly deposited into their Cuban bank accounts and the rest disbursed to the Cuban government in Algerian dinars. According to one physician, Cuba states as a reason for this the need to make investments in education and health. Though the physicians endure crowded conditions and have restricted movements while abroad, they largely accept this arrangement for the sake of their families. Their own earnings in hard-currency exceed the payments they would have received while working in Cuba. Thus, such service can be financially beneficial for the health-care personnel serving abroad even if they only receive a small fraction of what Algeria pays Cuba for their services.

Algeria has had a medical services provision arrangement with Cuba since the 1960s, but Cuban physicians recently expressed surprise at learning how much was actually paid for their services. The current situation, with no payments coming from a Cuban government strapped for cash, means that in many cases the physicians are simply subsisting on the food the hospitals provide them.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Routledge’s United States and Mexico: Between Partnership and Conflict


A Harvard professor for more than 45 years, Jorge I Dominguez also holds both a master of arts and a doctorate in political science from the esteemed university. An expert on the internal policies and international relations of Mexico and Cuba, Jorge Dominguez has written widely on related subjects.

One of his books is The United States and Mexico: Between Partnership and Conflict. Co-authored with R. Fernández de Castron, this book begins in the early 1800s and chronicles conflicts between the US and Mexico through the modern era. Routledge first published The United States and Mexico as part of its Contemporary Inter-American Relations series in 2001. The book is currently in its second edition from 2009.

Taking a complex and in-depth look at US/Mexico relations over the decades, The United States and Mexico highlights the vital trade partnership and close relationship between two countries that share one of the longest continuous land boarders in the world. It also examines their frequently tense migration relations, as well as problematic issues such as drug trafficking, trade agreements, and various economic/environmental concerns.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Mexico’s President Moves to Increase Mexico’s Minimum Wage


A former professor at Harvard University, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez also served as Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico. Focused on economic and trade trends, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez continues to maintain a strong interest in developments in Mexico.

A recent Forbes article drew attention to a second recent move by president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to increase the minimum wage, this time by 20 percent. The aim is to address persistent inequalities. Despite Mexico’s economic transformation over the past three decades, in which manufacturing and exports have soared and investment has been made in areas such as automotive, electronics, and aerospace, wages are among the lowest in the OECD.

Unlike most industrial countries, Mexico still has a minimum wage that is extremely low relative to the overall economy. With the average minimum wage worker earning just $2,000 in 2018, this has allowed the country to compete with countries such as China when it comes to labor intensive, low productivity jobs. Unfortunately, a corollary impact has been a stunted market for services and goods domestically.

The new minimum wage for 2020 is 123.22 pesos per day (approximately $6.50), which if properly enforced will raise wages for approximately 10 million Mexicans.

A major issue is that many Mexican workers have informal employment with family-run businesses and receive cash salaries that are not officially reported. This may prevent the move from having its intended effect in generating broad improvements for a large segment of the population. It also remains to be seen whether the minimum wage hike will dampen activity in the formal employment sector or increase inflation.

Friday, January 10, 2020

China Moves to Boost Investment and Trade Presence in South America