MEXICO CITY, May 9 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday lavished praise on Cuba's leader, reiterated his wish for the Caribbean island nation to be invited to the Summit of the Americas in June and said Mexico would be hiring over 500 Cuban doctors.
Lopez Obrador, who visited Cuba over the weekend as part of a regional tour of Central America and the Caribbean, said at a regular news conference that he had met with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, as well as former President Raul Castro.
"They have an incredible president. An honest man, hardworking, human, a really good person," Lopez Obrador said of Diaz-Canel, the Communist president who took office in 2019.
During the visit the two countries signed an agreement to expand cooperation in public health and another pledging to increase cultural, economic and other ties.
Lopez Obrador has emerged as the most important head of state in Latin America to criticize U.S. policy toward the region and Cuba, which he faults for mass migration, and to call for area integration and greater independence from Washington.
His use of words such as “depraved” to describe U.S. sanctions on Cuba and praise of Cuba's COVID-19 vaccines have endeared him to the Cuban government
“Except for a couple of short-lived periods in which relations between Cuba and Mexico were tense, during the 63 years since the victory of the Cuban Revolution they have been between good or very good,” William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University in Washington, said.
“With the advent of AMLO they have become excellent,” he added, referring to Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador again said he wants all countries in the region to receive an invitation to the upcoming U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas, set to take place in June in Los Angeles. read more
The U.S. government has said Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's administration were unlikely to receive invitations to the summit. read more
Lopez Obrador also announced that Mexico will hire more than 500 Cuban doctors to help make up for a shortage of medical professionals, and that it will purchase COVID-19 vaccines from Cuba.
Cuban doctors were previously hired to work in Mexico earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, sparking criticism from members of Mexico's opposition. read more
"We are also going to hire doctors from Cuba who are going to come to work in our country. We made this decision because we do not have the doctors we need in the country," Lopez Obrador said.
The Cuban government did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on Lopez Obrador's announcement.
The Mexican president announced in April that his country will vaccinate more children against COVID-19, urging global health authorities to deliver the doses it had ordered for the purpose. read more
Mexico will purchase vaccines from Cuba to vaccinate children as young as two years old, he said, adding, "It's given (Cuba) great results."
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