A large number of the defectors have fled from Venezuela, which has received some 14 000 Cuban medical professionals, more than the rest of the world combined. Currently, dozens have sought refuge in neighbouring Colombia, often living in precarious conditions, while they await permission to enter the USA.
Andres paid a price to get to Colombia. He and his wife had been assigned to the city of Punto Fijo on the northwestern coast of Venezuela, not far from the border. Their escape went smoothly until they reached the frontier, where Venezuelan guards refused to permit them to cross because the visas on their passports were valid only for travel within Venezuela. Only after Andres bribed the agents with nearly all their possessions did the guards let them leave Venezuela. “We gave them all the money we had, cellular phones, watches, and they let us cross”, he said. “We were in Colombia and we had reached freedom. We felt free.”
Andres and his wife were fortunate because not all defecting Cubans get across the border but are, instead, arrested and shipped back home. Once across the border, however, Andres and his wife found themselves stranded in north east Colombia’s harsh Guajira desert without contacts or money to continue travel. Eventually, however, they were given a lift by truckers, who carried them to the capital, Bogota.
In Bogota, Andres has lived with two other defectors in an unused storage room provided by a church group. They have also received assistance from the UN High Commission for Refugees. But, as they wait for their US visas, many of the Cubans are fearful because of their uncertain legal status in Colombia, whose government has given few of them refugee status.
The working conditions are those of slave labor:
Several Cuban defectors interviewed in Bogota said that they fled not only because of oppression in their own nation, but also because of unreasonably poor and demanding work conditions in Venezuela. Andres said that he could not stand the conditions in Venezuela, where he lived in a crowded house with a leaky straw roof which he shared with fifteen other Cuban doctors waiting to be put to work.
The doctors also said that in Venezuela, Cuban minders monitored their movements, prohibiting non-work contact with Venezuelans. When not at work, the Cubans were required to be at home after 6 pm. One couple said that after they pointed out some problems with the programme, officials threatened to send them back to Cuba in retaliation.
The Cubans said that the programme they worked in, called “Inside the Barrio”, was also plagued with mismanagement and inefficiency. Although many clinics were severely understaffed, newly-arrived medics sometimes sat for months waiting for assignment to a post, they said, and often conditions in the clinics were rudimentary lacking even basic medicines.
And they’re fleeing from Bolivia, too.
Read the article. Earlier this year the WaPo had
You should also bear in mind that Cuba’s suffering shortages of healthcare workers because one-fifth of Cuba’s health care labor supply – some 14,000 doctors and 6,000 health workers – has been contracted out to work in Venezuela. In return for these medical services, Cuba receives 90,000 barrels of discounted oil per day.
Chew on that the next time you read/hear about the charismatic-leader-helping-the-poor-offering-free-health-care-education-adult-literacy-and-job-training-initiatives-that-help-millions-of-Venezuelans/Cubans/Bolivians, and every time you hear about the excellent Cuban healthcare and other myths.
Too bad the folks who have been playing SICKO at the downtown movie theater for the past 5 weeks, and the folks who watch the movie don’t care much about reality.
Update, Friday 27 July
More on the Sicko Propanganda.