The regime’s response to the doctor drain: a return to repressive
DDC | La Habana | 3 Dic 2015 – 2:55 pm.
Beginning on 7 December the Cuban Government will once again apply a
policy requiring health professionals to seek permission from
high-ranking authorities to travel abroad for personal reasons, and wait
up to five years to leave the country with the intention of residing
abroad, reported the official newspaper Granma on Tuesday.
The policy had ceased to be applied after the “revision” of the
Immigration Act went into effect in January of 2013. In a statement
published in the Communist Party’s paper the regime used the current
crisis of Cubans in Central America to justify its decision, while
blaming US immigration legislation, especially the program that provides
asylum to health professionals who act to emigrate while on missions abroad.
“In light of the need to ensure our people an efficient and quality
health service, and mitigate the damage now being done as a result of
the US’s selective and politicized immigration policy towards Cuba, and
the increased, unexpected hiring of Cuban doctors in other countries,
the decision has been made to apply the regulations established in
Decree 306, of 11 October 2012, governing private travel abroad for
personal reasons by professionals in different specialized fields whose
work is vital to the population’s health services, and to scientific and
technical activity,” the Government announced.
It was not immediately clear whether the measure applies only to
specialists or to all doctors.
The Government acknowledged that the emigration of professionals in the
health sector has become “a concern.”
“Specializations as important as anesthesia, general surgery, intensive
care, cardiology, pediatrics, neurosurgery, nephrology, obstetrics and
gynecology, orthopedics, traumatology and neonatology, among others,
have been seriously affected by the unanticipated departure of vital
medical staff,” it added.
“To acquire the skills and knowledge in these highly specialized
professionals called for by modern science, years of study and work
experience are required, making it impossible to train them [new
professionals] in a short time,” the regime argued in its statement.
The Government also stated that the Parole Program for Cuban Medical
Professionals, established in 2006 by the Bush Administration, is “the
only one of its kind in the world,” being “intended to damage the
international medical cooperation programs” in Havana.
“It harbors the perverse objective of encouraging Cuban medical
professionals to abandon their missions in other countries, actively
facilitating their emigration through the use of embassies,” he said.
The Government also declared that “the incentives offered to Cuban
doctors by various countries, especially private clinics in them” has
led to “the resettlement of qualified labor abroad.” It assured that
“networks have been detected dedicated to selecting them [Cuban
physicians] and funding their departure.”
As is typical, in its statement the regime did not mention the internal
factors spurring many doctors to take advantage of their missions abroad
In addition to the difficult working conditions, the highest salary for
a doctor in Cuba is equivalent to 66 dollars/month, corresponding to a
second-degree specialist, according to the latest wage figures published
by the Government in March 2014.
Neither did the statement mention that the sale of professional
services, mainly medical, is one of the main sources of foreign currency
for the regime, which retains about 75% of the salary that foreign
governments and institutions pay.
Although complaints about poor service, the condition of facilities,
deficient repairs at hospitals, and other problems have increased in
recent decades, the Government insisted it was its “priority to ensure
high levels in its health services for the Cuban people, to which
significant human and material resources are allotted.” And it blamed
the US embargo for the on-going limitations suffered.
The Havana stated that its decision to reimpose limitations on the
travel of medical professionals “does not mean that medical specialists
cannot travel or live abroad,” but that in the future “departure dates
from the country will be analyzed, taking into account each
professional’s replacement in order to ensure a staffing situation that
guarantees the accessibility, quality, continuity and stability of these
This is the second sign that the flight of health professionals has
become a serious problem, frustrating the Government’s plans.
Weeks ago the Ministry of Public Health announced that professionals who
have abandoned the country, “including those who have been victims of
deceptive policies that led them to abandon their missions” abroad may
return. The official text on Tuesday reiterated that those who return
will be “ensured a position similar to the one they had previously.”
Havana devoted much of its statement seeking to relate its decision to
the current situation in Central America, after Nicaragua decided to
close its border with Costa Rica, blocking the passage of thousands of
The Government said that on Monday, during another round of talks with
Washington, “it presented again, unsuccessfully” its demand that the
US’s Cuban Adjustment Act, “dry feet, wet feet” policy, and Parole
Program for Cuban Medical Professionals all be rescinded, identifying
them as “the root cause of illegal immigration,” without acknowledging
the lack of economic and social opportunities which leads many citizens
on the island to seek a better future elsewhere.
Finally, neither did the Government’s statement recognize the dramatic
increase – around 77% – in the numbers of emigrants over the least year.
Source: The regime’s response to the doctor drain: a return to
repressive immigration policies | Diario de Cuba –