Cuban physicians still abandoning missions overseas despite end to U. H. parole program

Dayana Suá rez, the Cuban dentist, arrived in Colombia last year with the hope of starting a new existence here.

She defected from the Cuba medical team the girl was assigned to in nearby Venezuela after the Obama administration halted a unique program that welcomed medical professionals such as her to the United States.

Unable to legalize her status within Colombia, she took to the rainforest in an attempt to reach the U. Ersus. border through Mexico and make an application for political asylum. That was the same choice taken by many other Cuban doctors stuck in Bogotá after the unexpected choice to end the Cuban Medical Professional Leitspruch (CMPP) program on Jan. twelve, 2017.

“ We knew the parole program had not been available any more, but I could not really stay in the hell that is Venezuela and I did not want to return to Cuba because I was afraid, ” mentioned Suá rez, 27, who fled Venezuela within a month after the Obama decision.

Established with the Bush administration in 2006, the particular CMPP benefited more than 8, 1000 Cuban medical professionals who defected through medical teams sent abroad by island’s government. The program was removed as part of an unprecedented pact below which Cuba agreed to accept the particular return of its citizens deported through the United States.

Many medical experts now stranded in Colombia reside in the poorer parts of the Kennedy district of Bogotá, the capital. They have got lost hope that the United States can renew the parole program pertaining to defectors like them.

“ Many of us doctors who are within Colombia have had no option yet to … try to work right here under these conditions, ” stated Misael Herná ndez, who approximated that at least 1, 000 Cuban professionals now live in Colombia without having legal status.

Herná ndez, a 27-year-old doctor through Guantá namo in eastern Cuba, was also part of a medical group sent to Venezuela. Just 15 times after he graduated, he discovered he would be heading a treatment unit at a medical center in Venezuela’ s Sucre state, which is filled with criminal gangs.

“ We grew up in Cuba with an educational system that shows you to serve the state. When we move abroad on assignment we think we’re helping a sister nation and that we’ ll be accepted there, ” he said. “ But as soon as you step on international soil, you realize that it’s all the farce, pure demagoguery. ”

Suá rez, the dental practitioner, said she walked alone with the jungle for 17 days right after abandoning her assigned medical group in Venezuela. She suffered a good asthma attack in the middle of the Darien Gap, was abandoned by the some other Cubans in her group of unrecorded travelers, and had to walk the particular jungle alone.

“ My feet were destroyed by walk, ” she said. “ When I came out of the jungle I really could not even open my mouth. I had formed squeezed my jaw so hard, since I was so scared, that it remained shut. ”

Suá rez said she was assisted by indigenous communities and government bodies once she reached Panama. Right after recovering, she continued her journey and is now in Mexico, waiting for a government pass that will allow the girl to keep going north to the Oughout. S. border. She has no ensures that she will be granted asylum, but has no option but to test, she said.

“ I wound up with third-degree herpes simplex virus, but I would make this trip once again because I want to reach freedom, ” the dentist said.

For years, the Cuban government provides sent health professionals to work overseas plus currently has them stationed within 62 countries. Official Cuban numbers show the government earns more than $11. 5 billion a year from the function of its professionals abroad, predominantly individuals in the medical field. Health professionals working on the particular island earn a monthly income of about $60.

Herná ndez, the doctor from Guantá namo, said that once he reached their assigned medical center in Venezuela, he or she discovered the place lacked medicines plus equipment but had a surplus associated with criminals. Like many other Cuban physicians in Venezuela, he reported which he had to fake the number of patients handled and medicines doled out to satisfy quotas imposed by the Cuban authorities and make ends meet.

He or she recalled that more than once, criminals place guns to his head plus demanded that he revive others who was simply shot to death. “ 1 day they brought in one criminal together with his guts hanging out. I had to contact an ambulance and scream which he was alive, even though that was incorrect, to save my own life. ”

Another night, he plus a Venezuelan nurse were robbed in the health center. “ We continued to be silent while they stole, so that they would not kill us. It was frightening, ” he said, his tone of voice breaking.

Herná ndez decided to flee last June in order to Colombia with his Venezuelan wife. He previously to cross the border upon isolated footpaths because Venezuelan edge guards do not allow Cubans to keep by land. He’s been residing and working without documents within Colombia since then. “ It’s tough. It’s difficult. But it’s always much better than being in Venezuela, ” he mentioned.

Dr . Julio Cesar Alfonso, president of the Miami-based Solidarity Without Borders organization that helps Cuban doctors who have defected abroad, stated he’s working with Florida lawmakers in order to renew the parole program removed by the Obama administration.

“ If it’s not the Cuban Healthcare professional Parole, it will be some similar plan that allows Cuban professionals to escape this kind of slavery, ” he told este Nuevo Herald, declining to discuss more details.

Alfonso mentioned he’s in touch with dozens of Cuban physicians who have continued to flee through third countries despite the end from the U. S. parole program.

The key roadblock to a brand new parole program, Alfonso said, is definitely “ the agenda of Leader Donald Trump” that seeks to lessen immigration to the United States.

“ Cuban doctors are still getting away even though the parole program no longer exists, ” he said. “ The Cuban government always claimed that the physicians were leaving because they were enticed by the United States. There’s no more enticement, and they are still leaving. ”

Follow Mario J. Pentó n on Tweets: @mariojose_cuba

This article is part of the “ New Era in Cuban Migration” series, a collaborative project involving the Miami Herald and 14ymedio permitted by a grant for the Pulitzer Focus on Crisis Reporting .