Young Cuban doctor in Venezuela. Photo:larevolucionvive.org.ve
South Journal— A moral scandal well known by the mainstream media but unreported at all is that linked to the so-called Cuban Medical Professional Parole. A program of the US State Department promoting the defection and recruitment of medical professionals who are part of the Cuban solidarity brigades abroad.
Addressing this issue would imply citing statistics about the huge task undertaken by Cuba in the medical field. Just to give an idea, there are over 37 000 health professionals working in 77 nations of the world and this includes South-South cooperation programs, the free eye-surgery initiative that has benefitted 1.5 million poor people, the struggle against Cholera in Haiti, and the granting of scholarships to nearly 4000 students from 23 nations, including the United States.
The Cuban Medical Professional Parole is an initiative coordinated by the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security since 2006. As you can read on State Department´s webpage, the initiative offers special treatment at US embassies in any part of the world and a fast track entry to the United States for health professionals in different specialties, “who are sent by the Castro regime to work or study in third countries.”
A release from the US embassy in Caracas, published by Wikileaks, offers further details such as that diplomatic missions provide special air transportation to Miami to those who join the program.
The Wall Street Journal published a report in January 2011 assuring that 1 574 Cuban health professionals joined the US program in 65 different countries, since it was launched four and a half years ago. The figures seem quite large, but let’s just make some calculations to see the real impact by the US initiative. If we consider—as the publication says—that only in 2010 there were more than 37 000 Cuban health professionals abroad and that such a mission period—fluctuant according to the specific task—usually takes two years, in the period the article refers to Cuba would have sent at least 83 000 doctors. So, the 1 574 recruited professionals would stand for 1,89 percent of the total. These results reveal a clear failure if we bear in mind that the US initiative works on a federal budget and uses hundreds of officials as it is boosted by all US embassies around the world and is backed by powerful political allies and media in several countries.
On the other hand, it is not by mere chance that the large number of Cuban professionals who joined the “parole program” were working in Venezuela. The largest number of Cuban health workers is cooperating with this country and they are assisting poor communities as part of the Barrio Adentro health care mission. It is obvious that in this case the US initiative has a specific objective: undermining this social program, which probably is the most successful task undertaken by the Hugo Chavez government with Cuban medical assistance as its main pillar.
This US government initiative insists in manipulating Cuban emigration with social and political destabilization aims. Not to forget that since 1966, the Cuban Adjustment Act grants all Cubans that make it to US territory the privileges of residence and other labor and social advantages, which are denied to other Latin American emigrants, who are subject to a systematic repatriation policy.
The US recruitment program for Cuban doctors is directly or indirectly backed by other factors like the corporative media. The private media outlets based in the countries where the Cuban medical assistance has a strong impact, like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, silence this impact while they mount a special coverage if only one of the Cuban doctors decides to defect.
In Miami, alleged “non-government organizations” also back this US recruitment program. This is the case of “Solidaridad sin Fronteras” which has named “Barrio Afuera” its main cooperation actions with the US administration. On its webpage, this organization even posts the forms to be filled out by the Cuban doctors and the addresses of US consulates and embassies where they can resort to.
This organization (Solidarity without Borders) supported a suit filed by several Cuban doctors, who had defected their missions, with the Miami Federal Court against Venezuela´s Oil company PDVSA. They claimed 450 million dollars in terms of compensation for what they described as “forced labor” or “modern slave labor” to refer to the medical assistance they offered in barrios and rural communities in Venezuela, where they were never forced to go.
It is important to recall that Cuban medical cooperation in Venezuela has special characteristics if compared to other Cuban health assistance programs. In this case the program is part of a bilateral accord by mean of which Cuba provides thousands of professionals in the fields of health, education, sports, agriculture and in return the island is provided with oil under preferential conditions.
Despite the media silence, Cuba has gained the acknowledgement of the population and governments in the Third World due to its assistance and solidarity. The mainstream media continue to silence all this and forget their social commitment in informing about this small island nation’s example now under this US attack, of one of the dirtiest diplomatic initiatives ever: a scandal that has been hushed up.