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Brazil in talks with Havana to hire 6,000 Cuban doctors

Brazil is negotiating with Havana to hire about 6,000 Cuban doctors to work in the massive South American nation.

"Brazil is looking into the possibility of taking in a number of Cuban doctors" through talks that involve the Pan-American Health Organization, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said after meeting with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.

He said the estimated 6,000 Cuban health professionals would be deployed in areas where there is a shortage of medical facilities.

Income from Cuban medical staff working overseas, particularly in Venezuela, is a key source of hard currency for the Americas' only Communist-ruled nation.

Indeed Cuba's official top export is the $6 billion a year Havana gets from Caracas for Cuban doctors' services in Venezuela.

The world's seventh largest economy, Brazil has been facing a shortage of skilled labor, particularly engineers and doctors.

The Cuban chief diplomat's visit coincides with one by Brazilian Trade and Industry Minister Fernando Pimentel to Cuba.

Brazil is Cuba's sixth trading partner and first food supplier. It is also the second recipient of Cuban medicines and vaccines, according to Havana.

Bilateral trade reached a record $662 million dollars last year, up six percent over the previous year.

Brazilian investments in Cuba also are also up, with Brasilia providing two thirds of the financing for construction of the huge Mariel port and industrial project located 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Havana.

"The readjustment of the Cuban economy represents an opportunity for cooperation, for economic exchanges and for the Brazilian private sector," said Rodriguez.

"Brazil is committed to the modernization of infrastructure in Cuba," said Patriota, who pointed to Brazilian financing for the modernization of Cuban airports.