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cuban medical schools?

Discussion in 'General International Discussion' started by akiralx, Apr 25, 2001.

  1. akiralx

    akiralx New Member

    Apr 24, 2001
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    I recently heard that Cuba has a special program where you can practice medicine for free in Cuba. As long as you come back to serve underpriviliged sectors. Does anyone have more information on that. I would greatly appreciate the help.

    Thank you.
  2. Khartenuyi Mijiminbi

    Khartenuyi Mijiminbi Junior Member

    Apr 3, 2001
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    Feature Article

    Castro's "Doctor Diplomacy"

    Virgilio Beato-N??ez, MD, Enrique Cant?n, MD, Gladys C?rdenas, DO, Jos? Carro, MD, et al


    Cuba's health services have come under attention recently.(1,2) Since 1963, Fidel Castro has been exporting health care personnel including physicians to countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. It is estimated that approximately 5 percent of the Cuban physicians working for Castro's MINSAP (Cuban Public Health Service) are involved in service abroad.(3) The so-called "doctor diplomacy" may have begun in the manner of an assistance program for guerrilla movements, but it soon turned into big business for Havana. In this article, we analyze briefly the current events that led to two physicians serving in Castro's "doctor diplomacy" in Africa to desert in a maneuver that turned dangerous for them and for innocent bystanders.(4) Furthermore, we analyze the recent offer from Fidel Castro to train low-income Americans in medical sciences in order to remedy the health statistics of the United States in the context of the "doctor diplomacy" --- one of Castro's ways to influence public opinion abroad.

    The Breadth and Scope of "Doctor Diplomacy"

    The story of two Cuban physicians who were serving in Castro's elite "doctor diplomacy" service in Zimbabwe became front page material when they dangerously escaped from being kidnapped and returned to Cuba under the "long arms of the revolution."(2) The doctors who managed to escape, Drs. Leonel Cordova and Mirta Pe?a, were two of the thousands of physicians and health care personnel who are currently stationed in carefully crafted, thoroughly supervised and managed units in many countries of the so-called Third World. The income to Castro's purse from this "doctor diplomacy" in Zimbabwe alone is estimated at $1.2 million (U.S.) per month.(4) A very small fraction of this goes to pay the physicians themselves and their families in the island.

    Contrasting with the saga of the doctors serving in Zimbabwe, two weeks ago, Castro offered free medical instruction to recruit and register Americans to join his "doctor diplomacy."(5) Castro's offer was made to "low income Americans" who were invited to study medicine in Cuba for free and then return to the United States to provide treatment for the poor and underserved in what may turn into the latest twist of the "doctor diplomacy" schemes. These events seem to be temporally intertwined making it possible to look at them chronologically. Let us retrace them together from the various press releases that have appeared later. On May 26, the first signs of defection of Drs. Cordova and Pe?a were noted in Havana. During the weekend of June 3-4, Castro offered free medical training for low income Americans to a congressional delegation of African-American lawmakers that were touring Cuba. At that time, the communist leader was already attempting to divert the defection by kidnapping the Cuban doctors, ordering them to return to Havana via Paris.4 Later, when the logistics in Zimbabwe and South Africa became known through a note written by the defecting doctors and the press coverage, perhaps Castro attempted to divert negative public opinion on his "doctor diplomacy" by offering free medical training to Americans.

    Castro made the free training offer without consulting the proper authorities in his own MINSAP. He just commented to the press on this "offer that could not be refused" after Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson told him that his Mississippi Delta congressional district has an infant mortality rate much higher than that of Cuba. According to the Associated Press, Castro stated: "It would be hard for your government to oppose such a program. It would be a trial for them. Morally, how could they refuse?"(5)

    We feel compelled to reject the offer made by FIdel Castro. His is an offer of malicious distraction, and a propagandistic attempt to improve on the perception of the health standards and achievement claims of his Revolution.(6) Castro has used these claims to justify all aspects of his 41 year rule by a single party and a single individual --- himself.

    Our conclusion is based on facts that can be described and analyzed. The first consideration in assessing the offer by Fidel Castro for free medical training is that medicine is in reality a social science that uses the methods of the natural sciences to attain four goals: to promote health, to restore health, to prevent disease, and to rehabilitate the patient.(7) The practice of medicine is therefore carried out in a social order that cannot be improvised, invented or assumed to be totally controlled or controllable --- unless, of course, one practices medicine in a totalitarian society. While it is no secret that Castro's Cuba is a totalitarian society ruled by a tyrannical leader for the past 41 years, the people of the United States and of Mississippi in particular must not be intimidated into accepting an "offer that could not be refused." Castro's offer can and must be refused on further grounds. While Castro pointed out that Cuba has an infant mortality rate of 7.3 deaths per 1000 live births,* he did not disclose that the mortality of children in Cuba in the age group from 1 to 4 years is 11.8. This latter figure is 34 percent higher than the equivalent health statistic for the United States, despite the fact that Cuba has the most comprehensively organized health service in the Americas. These official data from the Pan American Health Organization (8) and our analysis suggest that Castro has organized the MINSAP services with one goal in mind: to lower the infant mortality rate without effective consideration to other important health parameters.

    The importance of infant mortality is that it correlates with the overall health, education, nutrition, standard of living and well-being of the population. In Cuba's case, this is not true. Cuban health services are organized and structured so that the resources, support, and services are directed to reach the facilities that must maintain a lower infant mortality (death from the time of birth to 12.0 months). Therefore, in Castro's Cuba, life support may be artificially instituted and continued on an individual infant or a community to achieve a numerical goal in the infant mortality of a particular health sector or region. This is done without consideration to other health services that are rationed, denied, simply ignored, or blamed on the CIA, obscure reasons or the improperly called American embargo. While these excuses are made part of the propaganda, fundamental health issues such as the provision of the elements for public hygiene are not prioritized. Instead, priorities are given to the desired goals of the MINSAP, a lower infant mortality with bonuses and favors for those physicians and units that reach their goals. Therefore, infant mortality data in Cuba since the 1970s reflect the organization of the health services and the compliance of the health care personnel in terms of the promulgated and designated goals promulgated by the totalitarian State. Infant mortality in Cuba cannot be a measure of the well-being and the standard of living of the population under these circumstances.

    The issues on infant mortality must be developed further. The following brief analysis will demonstrate the lack of seriousness in Castro's infant mortality propaganda. Consider, for example, a health parameter linked to infant mortality, maternal mortality. The maternal mortality of Cuba in the last three years has been 26 to 33 deaths per 100,000 live births. This health statistic is not low despite the fact that Cuba has the lowest birth rate in Latin America (12.5 births per 1000 population). Cuba's maternal mortality figure is in fact 4 to 5 times greater than the equivalent parameter for the United States (8.4). Furthermore, Castro's comments to the African-American lawmakers alluded to the health status of Mississippi, a State with an infant mortality of 10.2 but a maternal mortality of 9.3.(9) It is well recognized that mortality statistics do not depend solely on medical care. Issues such as nutrition, education and communication are considered important in achieving truly significant health statistics. Therefore, unless Castro is planning to take over the economy, the schools, the agriculture, and the communications of Mississippi, how can he offer to lower this important health statistic through his "doctor diplomacy?"

    Physicians who take their undergraduate training in a foreign country outside the regulations of the American Association of Medical Colleges are required to apply to the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). This is a regulation that applies to all individuals, foreign born or nationals, who have completed a course equivalent to that of an American medical school. The ECFMG has supervised and controlled the influx of foreign medical graduates (FMG) since its inception in the late 1950s. At this point in time, FMG's sit for the same exams offered to American medical students and graduates but the passing scores are not identical for each of these groups. The passing score of FMG's is set, among several considerations, on the number of physicians that may be desired in the U.S. for immigration purposes. Where will the graduates of this new posture of Castro's "doctor diplomacy" fit in any of these regulatory measures? It is true that Cuban FMG's have in general passed the required examinations in about 25 percent of the cases in their first attempt.(10) But even if the graduates from Castro's "doctor diplomacy" do go through the arduous passages reserved for FMG's, how are the imprints of communist social indoctrination going to fit into the training programs offered in the U.S.? Or how are the working habits, values, and merits for promotion free of political alignment or ideology going to adapt to American institutions? Some have argued that medicine under Castro in Cuba has been inappropriately contaminated with militarism, politics, specific guidelines and schemes for the management and treatment of all commonly seen illnesses, and directives on what can and cannot be written into a death certificate.

    Finally, medical education is known to be easily adapted to fit one or another system of indoctrination using biological or social principles.(11) Therefore, during the so-called free medical education offered by Castro, one could easily expect that students will be subjected to the systematic indoctrination that goes on in Cuban medical education under Castro. Cuban medical indoctrination has been applied to Cubans and Latin Americans enrolled in medical schools in the island since the early 1960s.(12)

    The indoctrination begins with the premise that the physician owes to society and the Castro regime their medical education. It continues in terms that the physician must become a communist and he or she must pledge to improve his or her skills as a communist in parallel to his or her skills as a physician. Finally, the graduate swears to be like Che Guevara.(12) Although this last goal of Castro's medical education may provide a new fashion to European designers, the fact remains that violent revolution, destruction, and death were all part and parcel of the preachings and deeds of the communist martyr of Cochabamba.

    While Castro told the black lawmakers that he supports their efforts to issue him credits despite the dismal status of his bankrupt economy; the bearded, legendary communist leader failed to discuss with the African-American lawmakers the current issues dealing with physicians in the island. Castro did not address anything regarding the situation of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, prisoner of conscience. Castro never mentioned his handling of the Colegio M?dico Independiente during the destruction of Concilio Cubano in 1996.(13)

    Moreover, since 1999, Cuban physicians have not been able to leave Cuba with proper documentation and permits according to the MINSAP regulation Number 54.14 According to this regulation, medical doctors and dentists must serve 3 to 5 years in designated areas in the island of Cuba before they are considered for a permission to leave the island. In this manner, Cuban physicians are blatantly discriminated and made to suffer higher penalties than the rest of the professionals.

    Castro also failed to recall the stories of Dr. Desy Rivero(15) and Omar del Pozo Marrero,(16) both physicians who were unjustly jailed and later forcefully exiled from Cuba for reasons that perhaps Castro alone would have been able to explain to the press and the American lawmakers. And, it goes without saying that Castro failed to disclose to the lawmakers and the press those sensitive negotiations that he was carrying out with Zimbabwe's dictator-president, Robert Mugabe. The nature of those negotiations on the defection and fate of the Cuban physicians may have enlightened the lawmakers from their financial, human rights, and political perspectives.

    Conclusions and Summary

    In summary, Castro's "doctor diplomacy" involves utilizing Cuban physicians to serve in areas where the Cuban regime has entered into contractual relationships with the expressed intention of providing health care aid and establishing or nourishing diplomatic relations with the host community. The physicians serving in these units are essentially under surveillance all the time and any change in their plans not consistent with the orders given from Havana invariably lead to the involvement of police or paramilitary security forces. In the recent desertion of Dr. Cordova and Dr. Pe?a from southern Africa, the news media got involved in the saga about one week after its onset. This led to massive media attention and the eventual agreement between Castro and Mugabe to "let the doctors go." The terms or consequences have not been disclosed. Financially, "doctor diplomacy" is an outstanding source of income for Castro's economy since his MINSAP pays doctors and other personnel only a small fraction of the millions of dollars that are received by Cuba. Regarding the alluded health statistics for Mississippi, the offer of Castro to train for free low-income Americans must be refused because his "claims on health achievements" are based on propaganda that are not indicative of health, well-being, or adequate standards of living in Cuba. We must reject the fact that these young American students will undergo an aggressive brainwashing and indoctrinating process through which they will become Castro's pawns. They will inevitably take to Castro the much desired influx of dollars that he needs to remain in power. Finally, the specific claim of Castro that he can lower the infant mortality rate in Mississippi implies a future control by Castro of health care, finances, education, nutrition, and communications in that State. Obviously, such claims must be denounced as delusional and their malicious implications rejected.

    Castro's offer of free medical training to serve the poor and underserved can and must be refused. First and foremost, it must be refused because there is no need to turn Mississippi or any State or region of the United States into another Cuba. Second, there is no need for hundreds of young Americans to turn into Che Guevaras, who will then come into the United States to preach and practice death, hate, and oppression of individual and collective rights and liberties. Furthermore, there is no need to adopt the propaganda in "Castro's revolution health achievements" without recognizing their hidden liabilities: widespread alcoholism, sociopathic behavior, low birth weights, endemic giardiasis, growing incidence of hepatitis E infection, widespread venereal diseases, very high abortion rates, high maternal mortality, double to triple the deaths from unintentional injuries and accidents. Finally, there is no need to guide the wholesome medical vocations of young people in the United States from any race, creed, nationality or income bracket to become physicians in Cuba. Castro's is a society that will likely turn them into revolutionaries looking for some "Mission Impossible" scheme in order to establish an elusive, egalitarian, socialist worker's paradise that has never existed. Instead, it has forged chains on the people and a Hell on Earth wherever it has been established.


    * This figure is highly open to question and does not agree with U.S. government figures as published elsewhere. For example, I suspect "live" is subject to Fidel Castro's interpretation. See Tom Carter, "Cuba was 'advanced' before Castro took over, report says." The Washington Times, March 29, 1998, p. 23. It cited an infant mortality figure of 12 per 1000 live births, according to Cuban government figures.


    1. Cuba sells snake oil to visiting congressmen. Miami Herald, June 6, 2000, p. 6B.
    2. Gaither C, Marques-Garc?a S. Castro maneuvers to bar doctors' defection to U.S. Miami Herald, June 11, 2000.
    3. Miranda OC. Recursos humanos en salud de Cuba. Educ. Med. Salud. 1986;20(3):375-381.
    4. Gaither C. Diserci?n en Zimbabwe empa?a la "diplomacia m?dica" de Castro. El Nuevo Herald, June, 12, 2000.
    5. Shepard P. Castro to offer medical training. Associated Press, June 4, 2000.
    6. Breo D. In socialist Cuba, primary care now reaches rural areas. American Medical News, July 25, 1977, pp. 11-13.
    7. Mart?-Iba?ez F. To be a doctor. Miami Medicine, November 1987, pp. 27-29.
    8. Health situation in the Americas. Pan American Health Organization. Basic Health Indicators 1999. PAHO/99.01, Washington, DC.
    9. Personal communication with Dr. Thompson, Head of the Mississippi Health Department contacted by telephone.
    10. Seywell RM, Studnick J, Bean JA, Ludke R. A performance comparison: USMG-FMG house staff physicians. Amer. Journal Public Health 1980;70(1):23-28.
    11. Stetten D. The medical school curriculum: the indoctrination of the medical student. Bull. New York Acad. Med. 1973;49(4):285-288.
    12. Gordon AM. Medicine in Cuba. Lancet 1983, October 29; 2 (8357):1026.
    13. Amnesty International. Cuba: government crackdown on dissent. April 1996. AI Index: AMR 25/14/96.
    14. El gobierno Cubano pone trabas a los viajes de m?dicos y dentistas. El Nuevo Herald, September 13, 1999.|
    15. Cuba: doctors imprisoned. Lancet 1998;351:439-440.
    16. Gordon AM. Omar del Pozo Marrero, physician prisoner of conscience. Lancet 1995. August 19; 346 (8973):509.

    The collaborators for this paper were: Virgilio Beato-N??ez, M.D.; Enrique Cant?n, M.D.; Gladys C?rdenas, D.O.; Jos? Carro, M.D.; Alberto Fibla, M.D.; Sergio Gonz?lez-Arias, M.D.; Antonio Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.; Eduardo Mart?nez, M.D.; Manuel Pe?alver, M.D.; Juan C. P?rez-Espinosa, D.O.; E. Ricardo Puig, M.D.; Joel Silverman, D.O. Finlay Medical Society, P.O. Box 523096, Miami, FL 33152, http://www.finlay-online.com.

    Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(5):163-166. Copyright ?2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

    Doctor diplomacy' requires Red pledge?

    Cuba's effort to recruit U.S. students backed by U.S. congressmen

    By Jon Dougherty. WorldNetDaily.com. Tuesday, February 20, 2001

    The Cuban government's offer of free medical training scholarships to "low-income Americans" is based on "false medical claims" and "requires [students'] dedication to communism," according to an American physicians group and former program attendees.

    For years, Cuban leader Fidel Castro's "doctor diplomacy" -- a program of exporting Cuban health care abroad -- has sent doctors to many countries and played host to health "tourists" while Cuba developed medications and drugs to treat some of the developing world's worst health-care problems.

    Indeed, Cuban doctors now work free of charge in some of Central America's most remote villages, many of which have never had regular medical attention. Also, Cuba has more than a thousand doctors in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras and Haiti, and has sent them to Africa as well.

    Perhaps as a way of polishing his image internationally, Castro took his program to a new level in 1999 by opening the Latin American School of Medical Sciences, "after 18 Latin American governments selected and sent 1,929 of their most promising students -- evenly divided between men and women -- from mostly rural, disadvantaged backgrounds," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 9, 2000.

    Successful applicants chosen to attend the school receive what Cuban officials say is a "regular medical doctor degree" after six years of training. The education and housing are provided free of charge.

    Students live at the school, which has a theater, dormitories, 28 teaching laboratories and a post office. They get uniforms, food and a small stipend for expenses on weekends. After remaining there for two-and-a-half years, they are then integrated into the Cuban system for the rest of their medical education, the Inquirer said.

    And while some U.S. and Latin American officials have praised Cuba's medical system as one that rivals American health care, critics say there are substantial loopholes in the program that include, among other things, a requirement that students pledge allegiance to communism and the Cuban Marxist form of government.

    According to a report on the "doctor diplomacy" program,written by former Cuban medical program attendees and published by the Medical Sentinel, the official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, "in addition to ideological and political conflicts, there are compelling public health reasons for rejecting" Cuba's claims.

    The authors of the report, AAPS said, "cite public documents that reveal that Cuban medical schools require that a physician 'must become a communist and he or she must pledge to improve his or her skills as a communist.' Cuban medical school graduates must also 'swear to be like [Cuban communist revolutionary] Che Guevara.'"

    Also, the physician's group said, Castro's program is "based on false medical claims," and that despite glowing reports, "Cuban medical training is poor in comparison to the U.S."

    Last summer, Castro made an "offer that could not be refused" to "provide Cuban doctors and free medical training to the U.S.," AAPS said.

    Moreover, the group asserted, the offer -- which was made last June by Castro to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mich., and members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were visiting Cuba -- is being taken seriously by some U.S. lawmakers.

    Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez, D-Texas, has embraced the program, and in a Jan. 25 statement called on eligible district constituents to consider applying for the program.

    "The Latin American School of Medical Sciences is recognized throughout Latin America as a leading school in general medicine," Rodriguez said. "For many of South Texas' brightest, the prohibitive cost of higher education rules out advanced studies -- especially in medicine.

    "The Latin American School is an excellent tuition-free alternative and I encourage those who are interested to seriously consider this great opportunity," he said. "The Cuban embargo should not stop humanitarian efforts to ease pain and suffering at home and abroad.

    "I am excited about this outstanding educational opportunity. It's a program that, at the very least, will benefit our students and the communities they will later serve," he added. Also, Luis Mariano Fernandez, first secretary of the Cuban Interests Section at the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., met with local upstate New York officials last Wednesday to push the program.

    Fernandez met with Amsterdam, N.Y., Mayor John M. Duchessi, Jr. "for a breakfast at Centro Civico of Amsterdam, Inc. to discuss the offer being made to high school students in disadvantaged neighborhoods across the United States," the local newpaper, The Recorder, said.

    "The idea of the scholarship came out of a visit from the Congressional Black Caucus to Cuba," Fernandez confirmed to the New York paper.

    The Caucus, which has no Republican members and is currently chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., is supportive of lifting most trade sanctions against Cuba.

    Fernandez said Castro's offer is being promoted by the Caucus and another group, Pastors for Peace, a group of churches that have provided medicine, medical supplies and other related gear through humanitarian efforts to Cuba for years, the Recorder said.

    "The only condition is that after they finish their study in Cuba after six years, that [graduating students] go back to the community and work with the community," Fernandez said. "This is basically the philosophy that we've followed with students from other Latin American countries."

    He added that Cuba was prepared to offer 500 scholarships to students in upstate New York.

    Ladan Alomar, executive director of Centrol Civico, also pledged support.

    "We're going to do the best we can to utilize this opportunity," Alomar said. "This is really going to open doors to both sides.

    "We'll be able to travel either way and get an understanding of the cultures and governments," she said. "The world is too small to [have] barriers."

    Other critics call the program a well-orchestrated piece of political propaganda, alleging that to study at a Cuban university or college, applicants are required to show a detailed list of revolutionary activities -- including participation in demonstrations against the U.S. government and its policies, as well as a disclaimer about being a member of any religious group or organization.

    School officials denied any political or ideological underpinnings as prerequisites to attendance.

    "We don't teach politics, just medicine," Nancy Nunez, director of the school's foreign affairs department, told the Inquirer last year. "We hope they come out of this course with the same human sensibility as the Cubans who spend time in other countries. We hope they don't see medicine as merchandise, but as humanitarian."

    AAPS disagrees, citing public and research documents -- as well as statements from those who have served in the "doctor diplomacy" programs.

    "Medical students who accept Castro's offer of free medical training may find themselves indentured serfs to Cuba's communism," the group said. "Regulations require that 'medical doctors must serve 3 to 5 years in designated areas on the island of Cuba before they are considered for permission to leave the island.'"

    More alarming, the group said, was that "even if [students] are ever allowed to return to the U.S., they may not be able to shake the influence. The physicians serving in these units are essentially under surveillance all the time and any change in their plans not consistent with the orders given them from Havana invariably leads to the involvement of police or paramilitary security forces."

    The AAPS said the training program is also a huge moneymaker for the Cuban government. "Doctors [exported abroad] generate tens of millions of dollars for the Castro regime," even though many earn only about one dollar a day and, as the Inquirer said, may have to sell trinkets and liquor on the side to make ends meet.

    "Cuba's so-called 'doctor diplomacy' may have begun in the manner of an assistance program for guerilla movements" some 40 years ago, AAPS said, "but soon turned into big business for Havana."

    The group said the Castro regime takes in $1.2 million a month from Zimbabwe alone under the program. "A very small fraction of this goes to pay the physicians themselves and their families in the island," said the AAPS report.

    Additionally, the physician group said Cuba's claims of superior medical outcomes "compared to the U.S. are false," noting that lower infant mortality rates claimed by Havana are based on flawed comparison studies and are actually "about 4-5 times higher than that of the U.S. rate."

    Jon E. Dougherty is a staff writer for WorldNetDaily.
  3. conan

    conan New Member

    May 25, 2001
    Likes Received:
    yeah, I have been to the ECLM twice, escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Medicas, My Girlfriend is studying there now, its just outside of Playa, Santa fe, by habana, pretty cool place, theres people from all over, C America S america, Haiti, Rep dom, Africa. I got the apps if anyone wants to apply.
    prereqs are under 25, low income, minority with preference on African amers, Mex/Amer, asians, native amer, etc.
    email me for more info,
    [email protected]
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Verified Account 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Attending Physician
    Dumb question alert: Isn't it illegal for Americans to be IN Cuba?

    And if so, how does that impact future licensing (if it does)?

    Just wondering...
  5. acaban

    acaban Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Hi Kim, As far as I know it is not illegal for any american to travel to Cuba. In fact the cuban government makes a lot of money from american tourist (also from europe and other countries).

    I have understood, that people that have escaped cuba and have sought assylum in the US would be jailed for returning under their current political system.

    Cuba has one of the most beautiful beaches and historic sites to visit. So I hear. Hope this helps some.

    AJC :D
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Verified Account 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Attending Physician
    Thanks acaban - unless things have changed in the last two years, it still remains illegal for *most* US citizens to travel to Cuba.

    However, the information below seems to allow students to travel there for educational purposes, IF they are affiliated with a LICENSED US EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION WHICH OFFERS THEM CREDIT FOR THE COURSEWORK OR RESEARCH. I can find no statement below that ALLOWS US students to travel to Cuba for the express purpose of obtaining a medical degree awarded by the Cuban institution. All studies in Cuba MUST be in adjunct to studies at a US institution; ie, as a research semester, etc.:

    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Office of Foreign Assets Control
    What You Need To Know About The U.S. Embargo

    An overview of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations
    Title 31 Part 515 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations


    Page 2

    Only persons whose travel falls into the categories discussed below are authorized to spend money in, to travel to, from, or within Cuba. Purchases of services unrelated to travel or a licensed activity, such as non-emergency medical services, are prohibited.

    General license:
    The following categories of travelers are permitted to spend money for Cuban travel and to engage in other transactions directly incident to the purpose of their travel under a general license without the need to obtain special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department:

    Official Government Travelers

    Persons regularly employed as journalists by a news reporting organization and persons regularly employed as supporting broadcast
    or technical personnel who travel to Cuba to engage in journalistic activities.

    Persons who are traveling to visit close relatives in Cuba in circumstances
    of humanitarian need. This authorization is valid without a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control only once every twelve months.

    Full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to
    professional research in their professional areas, provided that their research (1) is of a noncommercial, academic nature; (2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; and (3) has a substantial likelihood of public

    Full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to
    attendance at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution, or association that regularly sponsors such meetings or conferences in other countries. The organization, institution, or association sponsoring the meeting or conference may not be headquartered in the United States unless it has been specifically licensed to sponsor the meeting. The purpose of the meeting or conference cannot be the promotion of tourism in Cuba or other commercial activities involving Cuba, or to foster production of any biotechnological products.

    Amateur or semi-professional athletes or teams traveling to participate in Cuba in an athletic competition held under the auspices of the relevant international sports federation. The athletes must have been selected for the competition by the relevant U.S. sports federation, and the competition must be one that is open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public.

    Specific licenses for educational institutions:

    Specific licenses authorizing travel transactions related to certain educational activities by any students or employees affiliated with a licensed academic institution may be issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Such licenses are only available to U.S. academic institutions accredited by an appropriate national or regional accrediting association, and such licenses must be renewed after a period of two years. Once an academic institution has applied for and received such a specific license, the following categories
    of travelers affiliated with that academic institution are authorized to engage in travel-related transactions incident to the following activities without seeking further authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control:

    Undergraduate or graduate students articipating in a structured educational program as part of a course offered at a licensed college or university. Students planning to engage in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed institution stating 1) the institution?s license number, 2) that the student is enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the institution, and 3) that the travel is part of an educational program of the institution.

    Persons doing noncommercial Cuba-related academic research in Cuba for the purpose of qualifying academically as a professional (e.g., research toward a graduate degree). Students planning to engage in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed institution stating 1) the institution?s license number, 2) that the student is enrolled in a graduate degree program at the institution, and 3) that the Cuba research will be accepted for credit toward that graduate degree.

    Undergraduate or graduate students participating in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the Cuban study will be accepted for credit toward a degree at the licensed U.S. institution. A student planning to engage in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed U.S. institution stating 1) the institution?s license number, 2) that the student is currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the institution, and 3) that the Cuban study will be accepted for credit toward that degree.

    Persons regularly employed in a teaching capacity at a licensed college or university who plan to teach part or all of an academic program at a Cuban academic institution. An individual planning to engage in such
    transactions must carry a letter from the licensed institution stating 1) the
    institution?s license number, and 2) that the individual is regularly employed by the licensed institution in a teaching capacity.

    Cuban scholars teaching or engaging in other scholarly activities at a licensed college or university in the United States. Licensed institutions may sponsor such Cuban scholars, including payment of a stipend or

    Secondary school students participating in educational exchanges sponsored by Cuban or U.S. secondary schools and involving the students? participation in a formal course of study or in a structured educational program offered by a secondary school or other academic institution and led by a teacher or other secondary school official. A reasonable number of adult chaperones may accompany the students to Cuba. A secondary school group planning to engage in such transactions in Cuba must carry a letter from the licensed secondary school sponsoring the trip stating 1) the school?s license number, and 2)the list of names of all persons traveling with the group.

    Full-time employees of a licensed institution organizing or preparing for
    the educational activities described above. An individual engaging in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed institution stating 1) the institution?s license number, and 2) that the individual is regularly employed there.

    Specific licenses for religious organizations:
    Specific licenses authorizing travel transactions related to religious activities by any individuals or groups affiliated with a religious organization may be issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Such licenses are only available to religious organizations located in the United States, and such licenses must be renewed after a period of two years. Once a religious organization has applied for and received such a specific license, travelers affiliated with that religious organization are authorized to engage in travel-related transactions incident to a full-time program of religious activities in Cuba under the auspices of the licensed religious organization without seeking further authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

    Individuals planning to engage in such transactions must carry a letter from the licensed religious organization stating 1) the organization?s license number, 2) that they are affiliated with the licensed organization, and 3) that they are traveling to Cuba to engage in religious activities under the auspices of the licensed organization.

    I don't doubt that Cuba has beautiful beaches, but as far as I'm aware the above restrictions are still in force and Americans cannot fly directly to Cuba but rather must travel from Mexico or another country unless they fit one of the above-referenced categories.
  7. acaban

    acaban Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Hi Kim, thank you for the info. It came very interesting! AJC :D

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