[MKE - Indymedia] White House Action threatens U.S. medical students in Cuba and academic exchange with Cuba
WI Cuba Coalition
cubawifriends at mindspring.com
Fri Jul 9 11:32:19 PDT 2004
Sadly, the latest actions by the Bush administration to severely restrict
U.S. travel to Cuba have not only disrupted Cuban-American family visits,
but are already resulting in very sad repercussions on health issues
affecting the broader U.S. population. Below are two reports how this has
interfered with the free medical education which Cuba has been providing to
U.S. students (mostly African-American and Latino) with requests for action.
There is also an imporessive press release on how the administration's
actions has halted a highly regarded clinical study program, in Cuba, for
U.S. medical students throughout the U.S.
Medical students flee Cuba in fear of new U.S. rules
Dallas Morning News
Jul. 5, 2004 12:00 AM
HAVANA - American medical students in Cuba have rushed back to the
States, missing their final exams, over fears that U.S. authorities
them, fine them thousands of dollars, or revoke their citizenship for
medicine on the island.
Bush administration measures that took effect Wednesday severely
Americans' presence on the island.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, an arm of the Treasury
issued a letter June 25 saying the students could stay until Aug. 1.
students didn't get the word in time.
James Cason, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, said he was not aware that
American students were cutting their education short.
"It wasn't our intention," he said. "We'll have to get word to them
Before the frenzied departures, there were nearly 80 American medical
students in the country. Few remain, perhaps half a dozen, American
Inspiration for the program goes back to 1999 when Rep. Benny Thompson,
D-Miss., told Cuban President Fidel Castro that there were few doctors
district in the Mississippi Delta.
In September 2000, Castro told a crowd at Riverside Church in New York
that he would give scholarships to underprivileged Americans who could
afford medical school.
The Cuban government would pay the costs of the six-year program,
said. The only catch: After the students graduated, they would have to
medicine - at least for a time - in their own needy neighborhoods.
Hundreds of Americans applied for the program. At least a dozen of
initially arrived dropped out because they could not stand the
Havana's Latin America School for Medical Sciences.
Eight to 14 students are packed into each dorm room, sleeping in bunk
The food isn't always edible. There's no air-conditioning, and the
no seats, students say.
One student, Naketa Thomas, 26, of New York, said she doesn't mind the
conditions. She is grateful for the chance to get a medical degree and
$100,000 to $200,000 it can cost at home.
"Now they're telling us to leave. What are we supposed to do?" she
think it's unfair. We're all here because we could not pay the tuition
charge in the United States."
This is from Pastors for Peace, re the US medical students in Cuba,
been done, the impact, and what can be done. Art
INFORMATION UPDATE AND ACTION ALERT
REGARDING THE STATUS OF THE U.S. MEDICAL STUDENTS IN CUBA
FIRST: A special word of thanks and appreciation to all of you who have
made calls to
members of Congress, to the State Department, and to OFAC. Your calls
SECOND: I want to give you updated information on the status of the
and on your efforts on their behalf:
1) Our first objective when the new regulations were announced was
immediate relief from the arbitrary and totally impossible June 30
deadline. We wanted to relieve the panic felt by the students who were
faced with the
prospect of having to rush home, missing their exams and not finishing
their school year.
I am happy to report that this objective was achieved, through the
efforts of several forces. The Congressional Black Caucus, under the
leadership of Rep.
Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), played a very
role early on. Parents of the students all across the US were fired up
actively in phone calling and letter writing. IFCO members, friends,
outraged and weighed in with phone calls and letters. Our daily
with all these
forces was truly encouraging.
2) On June 25, 2004, R. Richard Newcomb, director of OFAC, issued
license to authorize family visit travelersand fully hosted travelersto
receive goods and services in Cuba for personal use or consumption in
Eastern Daylight Time on August 1, 2004...
A victory for the students!
3) I am pleased to report that many students did remain in school
Cuba, and were
able to complete exams and wrap up the school year in normal fashion.
4) The officials at the Latin American School of Medicine were
supportive to the U.S. students during the ordeal of the early days of
crisis and panic.
IFCO was in daily contact with the school officials and with the
of the U.S. students. The school made travel arrangements for students
leave early. Permission was granted for those who left to postpone
September. Thus no student is in danger of losing his/her school year.
5) I am also pleased to report that the parents and families of
obviously concerned, were steadfast in their confidence in the program,
were calm and
deliberate in their responses. All the parents and students are
to see the
medical scholarship program continue.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
It is urgent that we continue to push for:
¸ exemption of the medical students from licensing
¸ reinstatement of the fully hostedtravel category
Call the State Department:
Secretary of State Colin Powell: 202/647-4000
Kevin Whitaker, Director of the Cuba Desk: 202/647-9272
Call the Office of Foreign Assets Control:
Richard Newcomb, Director: 202/622-2510
Call your Congressional representative and your senators: 202/225-3121
Thanks for your continued support on this urgent issue!
"Let us not love in word: but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18
IFCO/Pastors for Peace
402 W 145th Street, New York, NY 10031
212-926-5757; fax: 212-926-5842; web: http://www.ifconews.org
July 5, 2004
Medical Educators Oppose New White House Limits on Academic Travel to Cuba
AtlantaA national program enrolling students from 115 U.S. universities is
urging the Bush administration to rescind new restrictions on academic
travel to Cuba. Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), an
Atlanta-based organization that offers courses in Cuba for medical, nursing
and public health students, says that its electives are being "shut down" by
the new rules, which take effect August 15th.
Dr. Peter G. Bourne, Chair of the MEDICC Board, addressed comments to the
Treasury Department today, attaching letters from 26 deans and directors of
international study programs at U.S. health sciences schools, which gave
MEDICC high marks:
an "unsurpassed international health experience" with a "rigorous
curriculum" (Dr. Marla Salmon, Dean, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of
Nursing, Emory University, and Director, Lillian Carter Center for
"a model of international education" (Dr. Linda Rosenstock, Dean, UCLA
School of Public Health);
an "essential part of our international health program" (Dr. Michele Barry,
Professor of Medicine and Global Health, Yale University School of
an "educational curriculum unparalleled by any other international medical
educational exchange" (Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, Dept. of Family Medicine,
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine);
"excellent educational programs" (Roberta Gianfortoni, Assistant Dean for
Professional Education, Harvard School of Public Health);
and expressing "strong support" for continuation of MEDICC courses (Dr.
Patricia Rodney, Dept. of Community Health, Morehouse School of Medicine).
Since 1998, nearly 1,000 students have joined MEDICC programs in Cuba,
enabling them to study one of the few universal health care systems in the
developing world, internationally recognized for its impressive health
indicators, says Dr. Bourne. He notes that course evaluations show that "the
greatest influence of this program on future career plans is to encourage
(students) to work at the community level, integrating prevention and health
promotion into practice in medically under-served and immigrant populations
in the United States."
But MEDICC will be forced to suspend its courses now, according to Dr.
Bourne, since it is not a degree-granting institution, its students are
drawn from schools across the country, and its programs last four to six
weeks--"compatible with medical, nursing and public health school
curricula"--not the ten weeks newly required by the Treasury Department.
The MEDICC Board urged Treasury to rescind the ruling, arguing that MEDICC
participants have the "right to engage in serious academic study and
exchange with colleagues in Cuba, and that the exercise of this right can
only enhance the skills of our future health professionals and the health of
people both in Cuba and the United States."
For further information: Dr. C. William Keck, MEDICC Board of Directors, and
Associate Dean, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine,
cwk at neoucom.edu, (330) 325-6170.
MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba), Emory University School of
Room 438, 1520 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA, 30322-4207. (404) 727-5229.
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