In a recent post I wrote about the fact that Cuba is training East Timorese doctors. “Cameron” in a replying comment said “I don’t see what’s so wrong with this. East Timor can get a cheap boost to its poorly resourced health system”
What Cameron misses is the fact that Castro does nothing for nothing. Cuba’s medical training is highly politicised, as the above photo of graduating medical students in Havana indicates.
Cuba uses these exchanges to increase its influence in the “Third World”. I’ll quote some excerpts from the official Cuban newspaper “Granma”, recently reprinted in the Communist Party of Australia’s newspaper, “The Guardian” to back up my case.
“It was a solemn and, without any doubt, unique ceremony. Everyone present at the first graduation from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) was touched by emotion. It was an unrepeatable moment with 1610 young doctors receiving their diplomas, rings and prizes for six years of energetic effort. They are not just a few more graduates. The fact that it was about the first graduation from ELAM, that work of “infinite love for humanity” was compounded by the students themselves.
Dr Juan Carrizo, the dean of ELAM, noted during the ceremony in Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre, that 71.9 percent are from the working class. More interesting, they represent 33 ethnicities; for example, Mayans and Mesquitos, Punas.
Arnolfo Quintero is a robust transport worker from the city of San Cristóbal in Tachira, the Andean region of Venezuela, but when he tried to comment for Granma International what he felt about his new fully-fledged doctor daughter, the lump in his throat and his tear-filled eyes overcame him.
“We are very proud and emotional. We are very grateful for what President Chávez, President Castro and the Cuban people have done.”
It was a graduation within a Summit of these simple and brilliant young people. For them, the presence of the man who dreamed of and put into practice that inestimable project — the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, and, at his side, many of those who supported the idea, in first place, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.
Also present was the president of Panama; the prime ministers of Antigua and Bermuda, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the vice president of Ecuador; the deputy prime minister of St Lucia; the foreign ministers of the Bahamas, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic and Grenada; and ministers from Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica; and, in an outstanding way, the Reverend Lucius Walker (the graduates included a young African American).
The new doctors dedicated their graduation to President Fidel Castro, “who has given thousands of young people the possibility of knowing that a better world is necessarily possible“, to the five Cuban heroes kidnapped in US jails, and “to the people who took us in with their integrity, dignity and love for the homeland”.
There remained an oath: “We shall sow the fertile seed of solidarity.”
Bit different from Otago Medical School isn’t it?