Cuban health professionals who had been stranded in Colombia are allowed
U.S. entry at MIA
BY MARIO J. PENTÓN
Two dozen Cuban health professionals who deserted from medical missions
abroad arrived in Miami Monday afternoon on a flight from Colombia.
Those in the group are among professionals who were stranded in third
countries following former President Barack Obama's executive order that
put an end to the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, known by
the acronym CMPP.
"This is a triumph for the entire Cuban-American community, our
organization and the offices of Cuban-American Congress members who have
worked to get these folks treated correctly and their applications
satisfactorily answered," said Julio César Alfonso, president of the
organization Solidaridad Sin Fronteras, which is calling for restoration
of the program.
Those allowed entry at Miami International Airport had managed to get
their CMPP paperwork in before the Jan. 12 cutoff.
Yerenia Cedeño, a 28-year-old Cuban doctor, characterized the mission to
which she was assigned in Venezuela as "horrible." She abandoned the
post five months after arriving — citing insecurity and precarious
living conditions as reasons — and fled to Colombia.
"You constantly heard about someone being robbed of their phone or
another person being attacked on the bus," Cedeño said, adding that
returning to Cuba was not an option because she would be treated as an
Cuba has long exported health services abroad, either charging a fee or
in exchange for goods. Medical professionals receive a small stipend
while most of the revenue, amounting to billions of dollars, goes into
government coffers. About 50,000 Cuban professionals are currently
dispersed to more than 60 countries, the government has reported.
For a decade, the CMPP granted the right to apply for expedited U.S.
visas to Cuban doctors who could prove their nationality and that they
were working as part of a Cuban government mission in a third country.
Havana has complained that the program was draining the island of
professionals they had educated.
Cedeño said she felt exploited in Venezuela, where she shared her work
with her husband, also a doctor, who accompanied her on the trip to the
United States but declined to give any statements.
Cedeño said her mission now is to get her 3-year-old daughter out of
Guantánamo to join her in the United States and resume an education so
she can practice her profession.
"I want to work as a doctor here, or something similar," she said. "It's
the beginning of a new life."
Follow Mario J. Pentón on Twitter: @mariojose_cuba
Source: Cuban health professionals arrive at Miami International Airport
| Miami Herald -