CUBAN DOCTORS IN ITALY: HUMANITARIAN AND DIPLOMATIC

Cuba exports very few items that contribute to its economy. These are cigars, sugar, rum, pharmaceutical products, and medical services, especially doctors.

Lately, the country has been in the news and commended for sending its doctors to Covid-19 plagued Italy in precarious and high-risk situations.

For nearly 60 years, Cuba has been sending healthcare professionals around the world, especially to the Latin American countries. It is part of its declared policy of “solidarity with those in need” no matter where the need is global.

However, this humanitarian gesture has its other side as well, the medical diplomacy, exploited in a typical way the Left or Communist regimes do. Exporting medical services earn money for Cuba to survive the ongoing US embargo.

Besides helping the needed countries, the services of doctors and other medical professionals abroad have economic and diplomatic benefits for Cuba.

Working abroad allows them to better their standard of living when they earn much more than if working on the Island. In many cases, these doctors get an opportunity to escape the hardships of the Communist regime and settle abroad permanently.

During my two-week holiday in Cuba in 2018, I was told, by Cubans themselves, that most of the country’s professionals like doctors, nurses engineers, etc. do not find jobs in their respective careers. Instead, they are doing the available jobs in hotels and luxury resorts as waiters and bartenders, cooks, or even gardeners.

Migrations by Cubans by whatever means is natural. It has been happening all these six decades of the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro. According to a recent report, between 2006 and 2016, over 7000 Cuban doctors defected to the USA via third countries where they first worked.

The latest mission of Cuban doctors in Italy for humanitarian reasons is indeed praiseworthy. Still, it needs not to be part of the government’s publicity machinery to promote its fake ideal of internationalism while having an abysmal human rights record.

-Promod Puri

 

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