14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 2 February 2017 — Dozens of Cuban doctors stranded in Colombia are preparing to travel to the United States on Monday after receiving a visa as part of the recently repealed Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) program.
The doctors will be the first to reach North American soil after the end of the program that, every year, sheltered every year hundreds of health professionals who escaped from Cuban medical missions abroad.
“There will be more than 20 of us who will fly on Monday, because another flight planned for Friday was suspended,” explains Maikel Palacios by telephone from Bogota.
The health worker, who spent six months in Colombia after escaping from the Cuban medical mission in Venezuela, says he lives in “an atmosphere of hope among the hundreds of physicians stranded in that country.”
“The news that comes to us from Miami is encouraging. Solidarity Without Borders has been interested in our case,” he explains.
“We are worried about more than 20 professionals who escaped the mission before the program was eliminated and now they have no way to reach the United States and cannot return to Cuba”
Solidarity Without Borders is a non-governmental organization created by Cuban doctors who fled the countries to which the Cuban Government had sent them. Its purpose is to help colleagues, once they arrive in the United States to revalidate their titles and integrate into that country’s medical system.
According to Palacios, dozens of visas have been issued since last January when former President Barack Obama, in a surprise move, gave in to the old request of the government of Raul Castro and repealed the program created by George Bush in 2006.
The export of health personnel generated income for Cuba ion the order of US $8.2 billion in 2014.
In the ten years of existence of the CMPP more than 8,000 doctors and health personnel escaped to the United States.
“We are worried about more than 20 professionals who escaped the mission before the program was eliminated and now they have no way to reach the United States and cannot return to Cuba,” Palacios explains.
Personnel who leave medical missions are prohibited from returning to Cuba for eight years and are considered “deserters” by the Cuban authorities.