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US May Drop Program Helping Cuban Doctors Defect

teleSUR | January 9, 2016

The White House may end a program encouraging Cuban doctors sent abroad to defect and move to the United States.

The program, created under George W. Bush in 2006, is under review as a part of ongoing negotiations to normalize relations with Cuba, reported Reuters on Friday. Cuba considers it a “reprehensible practice” that is designed to “deprive Cuba and many other countries of vital human resources.”

The island sends medical personnel to countries suffering from health crises, including to South Africa in the post-apartheid brain drain and to West Africa to treat patients infected with Ebola.

The dispatches are a significant export and source of income for the country. In exchange for staff Cuba receives 100,000 barrels of oil a year from Venezuela.

Under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, U.S. embassies in over 60 countries have discretionary authority to grant Cuban doctors abroad U.S. visas.

Despite being compared to slaves or prisoners on parole, out of over 40,000 medical workers in third world countries, the program accepted a total of 7,117 applicants. In 2015, 1,663 applicants were approved, a record in its nine-year history.

“It’s not only an issue of quantity, but of the quality of the specialists, the brains that the North American government has been selectively robbing… which is also a source of income for the problems that our people are confronting daily,” Marcos Agustín del Risco, director of Human Capital in the Ministry of Public Health, told Radio Rebelde.

The defectors “seriously affected” Cuba’s own free health care system, causing President Raul Castro to recently announce that the government will re-impose limits on the number of medics leaving the country. Last summer, controversy over Cuban doctors who had fled to Colombia to process U.S. visas became a major question in U.S.-Cuba relations.

“It’s an unusual policy, and I think as we look at the whole totality of the relationship, this is something that we felt was worth being in the list of things that we consider,” Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser that participated in Cuba talks last year, told Reuters.

January 9, 2016 - Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. End it NOW!

    Like

    Comment by roberthstiver | January 10, 2016 | Reply


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