Sadly, some of these doctors are being denied asylum into the US because of failed background checks.
The dirty secret about the Cuban doctors is that they are a commodity exported by the Cuban government and they are worth their weight in gold both for the services they provide and for their propaganda value.
The Cuban doctors are sent to third world countries to administer to the poor. Doctors from the “host” countries do not want to work on remote, poor and dangerous locations, so they send in the Cuban doctors as indentured servants who are exploited to benefit both Havana and the host country.
The US invited Cubans in the medical profession working abroad to defect. And, defect they did.
The problem is two-fold.
First, these doctors provide an essential service in the host countries “doing the work the natives will not do”. So granting these doctors asylum at the American embassies puts the American diplomats in a delicate situation with the host countries.
Secondly, the Department of homeland security did not provide adequate procedures or information on the Medical worker asylum program to the diplomatic core in countries that host the Cuban Medical workers resulting in a bureaucratic bottleneck.
But, they're getting smart. They're calling their friends and families in the US as they defect to safeguard their rights under US laws.
From the Sun Sentinel
Some Cuban doctors flee via Venezuela
Defectors shed light on medical aid missions
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post
February 21, 2007
Cuba has dispatched more than 20,000 doctors, as well as thousands of other specialists such as sports trainers and therapists, to Venezuela. Chavez's government has paid for the service by providing Cuba with nearly 100,000 barrels of oil a day, filling the void left by the Soviet Union, Havana's longtime benefactor during the Cold War.
Although it is unclear how many have defected, Western diplomats in Bogota said that in 2006 there were 63 Cubans, most of them presumed to be medical professionals, who sought asylum in this country. That group does not include those who headed straight to the U.S. Embassy seeking help. U.S. authorities here referred questions about the Cubans to Homeland Security officials in Washington, who did not return telephone calls.
But Ana Carbonell, chief of staff for Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, a Cuban-American and a staunch opponent of Castro and Chavez, said that "it's safe to say it's hundreds" of Cubans assigned to Venezuela who have sought asylum in recent years.
The Bush administration, which has tried to further isolate Cuba and provided tacit support for a failed coup against Chavez in 2002, has tried to encourage more defections. In August, U.S. officials announced a new policy that allows Cuban medical personnel -- identified by the Department of Homeland Security as doctors, physical therapists, lab technicians, nurses, sports trainers and others -- to apply for entry to the United States at U.S. embassies in the countries where they serve. Worldwide, as many as 500 Cuban medical personnel and their dependents have applied, Carbonell said. About a third have been accepted.
Although a Homeland Security fact sheet on the new policy, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole program, said adjudication of requests for entry to the United States "may take two weeks or longer," some of the medical personnel in Bogota have been waiting months. Several have been rejected after undergoing extensive U.S. background checks meant to weed out, among others, suspected spies.
Rarely are defections made public. Embassies in Latin America that receive requests keep quiet to protect the asylum-seekers and not fuel the indignation of the host government.
Read the whole article Here