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Vol. 75/No. 5      February 7, 2011

U.S. gov’t program seeks to
lure Cuban doctors to defect
(front page)
Washington’s effort to lure doctors away from Cuba to politically undermine the revolution there has received some recent coverage in the big-business press. The January 15 Wall Street Journal features a story on the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, run by the U.S. immigration agency, that offers refugee status in the United States to any Cuban doctor working for the Cuban government in a medical mission abroad.

Begun in 2006, the program is one of many—like the enticements offered athletes and artists—designed to win defections from the Cuban Revolution.

Under the parole program doctors and some other Cuban health-care personnel on assignments abroad are eligible to apply for asylum through any U.S. embassy in the world. If their application is accepted, a visa is granted. Permanent residence status is guaranteed once they are on U.S. soil.

The program is part of Washington’s bag of tools to promote a “democratic counterrevolution” in Cuba by tightening its embargo to maximize the economic hardships of the Cuban people and financing opposition political groups, in hopes of fostering hostility to the government. These operations especially target middle-class layers, who are more vulnerable to seeking individual solutions to the challenge of living in Cuba as the world capitalist economic crisis deepens.

As of Dec. 16, 2010, there were 1,574 Cuban doctors who gained U.S. visas through the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, according to Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by the Journal. The paper acknowledged that “only a small percentage of Cuban doctors sent overseas have actually defected.” More than 37,000 Cuban health-care workers served in missions abroad in 77 countries in 2010 alone. Washington’s operation is aimed at weakening these missions, which have earned respect around the world.

The British capitalist daily the Independent noted, “They are heroes of the Haitian earthquake disaster … which President Barack Obama pledged a monumental United States humanitarian mission to alleviate… . Except these heroes are from the US’ arch-enemy, Cuba, whose doctors and nurses have put US efforts to shame.”

Author Nina Lakhani writes that there are 1,200 Cuban medical personnel in Haiti. They are deployed in 40 clinics across the island, and have treated 30,000 cholera patients since October. That’s 40 percent of all those struck by the disease. Not a single Haitian worker or peasant has had to pay anything for their treatment by Cuban doctors.

Cuban medical missions also shame U.S. “aid” programs in semicolonial countries by showing that disease, hunger, rodents, and other ills of capitalism are not inevitable. They can be ended. An example is the successful collaboration by the governments of Cuba and Equatorial Guinea to eradicate the rat population on the island of Annobón, something city planners in advanced capitalist countries have not achieved.

The Cuban infant mortality rate dropped to 4.5 per every 1,000 live births in 2010, the lowest in its history. In the United States the most recent figure available is for 2007. Overall infant mortality stood at 6.75, and for African Americans, 13.35.
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