With only days left in his administration, President Obama decided to give a last minute gift to Cuba’s apartheid regime and ended the “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” policy and the asylum program for Cuban doctors escaping slavery in Latin America. This sudden policy change ended up leaving several Cuban doctors who had defected stranded in Colombia. Thankfully, however, they were finally given authorization to enter the U.S.
Cuban health professionals who had been stranded in Colombia are allowed U.S. entry at MIA
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 outcast.
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.
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