Humanitarian Aid to Cuba
One way to battle the complex regulations concerning travel for US citizens to Cuba is to bring humanitarian aid. The Society Mobile-La Habana recently took a trip to Cuba which required, to fulfill US Treasury Department regulations, that each member bring 24 pounds worth of medical supplies as one of their pieces of luggage. This method of jumping the regulation hoops seems to have the dual advantage of allowing more Americans to visit and to bring much needed medical supplies to Cuba. Despite the fact that Cuba has twice as many doctors per capita as the US and infant mortality rates on par with the US, the Cuban government has a difficult time obtaining medicines and equipment both because of legal roadblocks and the lack of funds.
For more information on the Society Mobile-La Habana, contact Jill Shinault at email@example.com
Cuba Stays Independent of FTAA
This April 20, 34 Heads of State, from every country in the Americas except Cuba, will be in Québec City to sign an agreement forming the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). This will extend NAFTA to include all of Central and South America and the Caribbean, creating the largest free trade zone in the world.
In expectation of a large display of protest at the meeting in Québec City, Canadian authorities are mounting the largest security effort in Canadian history. At recent protests in Seattle, Washington DC, and Prague at World Bank and WTO meetings protestors likened free trade to the creation of larger multi-nation governments, with less accountabilty to citizens than to economic interests.
Cuba will not be at the table. Fidel Castro has spoken out against free trade agreements, saying that such contracts sacrifice the soverignty of nations to that of corporations.
FRD Is Going to Cuba
A delegation sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Long Island and by FRD, will be visiting Cuba from the 14th to the 24th of April with the help of Global Exchange. The group will visit many cultural and economic sites, with an emphasis on diplomatic relations and potential international non-governmental work. A similar visit will be organized for late November. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-367-4270 for details.
Free Medical School Tuition for Underprivileged Americans
In what is being seen as either humanitarian aid or a propaganda campaign, depending on which slant one chooses, Cuba is offering 500 American students free medical school tuition. The only catch is that all must be from low-income backgrounds, half the students must be African-American, the other half Hispanic and Native American.
In a meeting last year between Fidel Castro and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the idea was launched as a way to help both parties. Since Cuba has twice as many doctors per capita as the United States, it has the resources to spare. On the other hand blacks and hispanics are grossly underrepresented in US medical schools.
Eligible students must be between 18 and 25 years, hold a high school diploma, and pass physical and academic exams. The six year program includes a six month pre-med program to bring students up to speed in sciences, and a twelve week intensive Spanish program if needed.
The program is housed at the Latin American School of Medicine, which currently has 3,432 students enrolled from 23 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
In Cuba healthcare is universal and free. In the 41 years since Fidel Castro came to power, the number of Cuban doctors has risen from 3000 to over 60,000 today, according to Cuban officials. Along with this increase has been a lowering of child mortality rates to below that of most US cities.
There is concern that the credentials earned by students in Cuba would not be accepted in American institutions. "We would hope these doctors would be treated like any other doctors from another country," said Rep. Jose Serrano, D-NY "We aren't asking anything special be done for them. If they have to pass extra tests to practice here, fine. We just wouldn't want them to be denied because of politics."
For more information, contact the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, 402 W 145th Street, New York, NY10031 phone (212) 926-5757 fax (212) 926-5842 email: email@example.com, web: www.ifconews.org/medschool.html