LOS20ESCLAVOS20DE20BARRIO20ADENTROTurns out Cuban doctors sent to work in Venezuela are defecting to the U.S. in huge and fast-growing numbers.

Chris Kraul gifts us a rivetting read over on the LA Times:

Nelia, a 29-year-old general practitioner from Santiago de Cuba, arrived in Bogota last month after what she said was a nightmarish year working in Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro program in the city of Valencia. She declined to disclose her last name for fear of reprisal back home.

Nelia said her disillusionment started on her arrival in Caracas’ Maiquetia airport in mid-2013. She and several colleagues waited there for two days, sometimes sleeping in chairs, before authorities assigned her to a clinic in Valencia, she said.

“It was all a trick. They tell you how great it’s going to be, how you will able to buy things and how grateful Venezuelans are to have you. Then comes the shock of the reality,” Nelia said. Her clinic in Valencia had no air conditioning and much of the ultrasound equipment she was supposed to use to examine pregnant women was broken.

She described the workload as “crushing.” Instead of the 15 to 18 procedures a day she performed in Cuba, she did as many as 90 in Venezuela, she said. Crime is rampant, the pay is an abysmal $20 per month and Cubans are caught in the middle of Venezuela’s civil unrest.

[Hat tip: HD]

16 thoughts on “Barrio-a-Visa

  1. The Castros are exceptional in creating illusions. Mostly because they control the flow of information.
    For example, a great many foreigners think of Cuba as a great Utopia where everyone is treated equal, race relations are not a problem, the Cuban government is composed of caring innovative leaders willing to sacrifice for the good of the country, food, medical care, and education are free, etc.

    Cuban doctors(?) sent to Venezuela are learning about reality. They could help U.S. health care if their training is adequate.


    • I doubt the numbers who defect would put a significant debt in US doctor shortage. A few here and there are always welcome, but overall, their impact would be negliable.
      Not so for Cuba though …


    • Cuban “doctors” are not automatically doctors elsewhere. Their education and training is inadequate. To practice medicine in the States, they would require years more schooling and then have to go through the internship procedure. Not to mention needing to learn English. Those who do end up in the U.S. probably work as medical technicians or orderlies, if they can get any job in the medical field at all.


      • I visited Cuba in 2003 and visited a medical outpost. Cuban doctors learn to improvise and may be very well suited to Venezuela, but less suited to countries with significant resources. By the way, these are the medicines the Cuban doctors say they most need(with the US trade name): captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix).


      • I was living in Havana while working on a project. While I was there, I developed a small boil on my belly that wouldn’t heal. I tried antibiotics twice, but it came back. It was right at my belt line and became very painful. So, I finally decided I would have to entrust myself to the Cuban doctors. I went to what I was told was the best hospital in Havana and received what I was told was VIP treatment. Well, what I was expecting was that they would make a small incision, clean out the infection, and sew me up with a few stitches. What they did was completely to completely excise all of the skin around the affected area. I was left with an open wound in my belly about 5cm by 2cm. They slapped a bandage on it and sent me home with some antibiotic cream and instructions to change the bandage every day. It took a month to heal and left me with a very impressive scar. Obviously, finesse is not their forte…


  2. wish the article and post had mentioned the differential between what the Cuban government gets paid to provide the services of Barrio Adentro, and the $20 per month payment to the Cuban medic.


    • This is a first attempt:

      100k barrels of oil @ $90/barrel = $9 million
      $9 million / 10k doctors = $900/doctor every single day
      $900 * 30 = $27000 per doctor per month.

      I may be very wrong in that Venezuela may be also be paying for cuban teachers/sport coaches. Also, it could be that Cuba is paying part of this money back in low-interest loans. In any case what we are paying for cuban doctors is nowhere near those $20


    • This is the neo-slavery of the XXI century.
      When the Castros figured out that there were no other goods to export and trade with, they look at their people and found a niche in some Latin american countries. Now they can sell cubans, no worries since the people in Cuba belong to them.
      I wonder why not much have been said about this transnational that profits on human misery?


      • Why has so little been said about the murky operations between two governments?

        Because of ‘maquillaje’.

        The Cuban slaves are involved in a political whitewash operation. For who among the international socialists will ever fault services wrapped in the gauze of medical care, never mind the details?

        The Cuban apparatchiks know they can cleverly seed their Cuban military, in Venezuela. But it’s much harder to hide Cubans elsewhere. So-o-o, to make the medicine of neo-colonialism palatable to Venezuelans, the non-military Cubans are sprinkled like rice into Barrio Adentro projects.

        As in, yes they’re Cubans, but look at the good they’re doing in our country …. (heavy irony only understood by those who haven’t left their brains at the door).


  3. The Castro delusion works primarily on people full of hatred for the gringos. Venezuela has already put its head in a noose and the politicians always raise the spectre of gringo invasion to get people to go along with their ruinous policies. It’s like telling children the boogeyman is going to get them. They like it when the boogeyman buys oil for cash but seem to overlook that hypocrisy the rest of the time while they are giving oil away for free elsewhere.


  4. From first hand accounts of venezuelan phisicians who have had a chance of looking at the work of their ‘colleagues’ from Cuba , their training leaves much to be desired and is generally inferior to that of better trained Venezuelan phisicians ( excluding the so called medicos bolivarianos which are at best medical orderlies) ,Suspect some of them are not real medics but ‘feldsman’ , a soviet invention of para medics who could help true doctos in their daily work but not diagnose or dictate treatment .

    They probably have a hand picked university in which they train their best medics for servicing the nomenklatura and which might qualify as true doctors in the normal sense of the word . But they are probalby very few of the latter coming to Venezuela .


  5. Quico, here in Brazil there were a few cases several months ago but we have not heard about further defections in the last few months. It looks that the Brazilian Medical Association has even structured some sort of “support” to those who are considering defection. The Medical Association has been clearly against the importation of cuban medical doctors, mainly due to what is perceived as inadequate professional qualification. The poorest areas of the interior have been the main target of the programme and for those people it has been a “blessing” not out of the quality of the new professionals but due to the fact they many of them had not seen a doctor in their entire life. Working conditions reported by some of the cuban doctors are also quite bad. Despite the fact that every reasonable person would agree that all doctors should have the same minimum standard qualification, as certified by a through exam, in practical terms most of the local medical doctors would never go to most of the places that the cubans are “voluntarily” ( if you know what I mean) going. Some municipalities were offering salaries as high as the equivalent to US$ 15,000.00 but were not getting braziian educated candidates. Of course I would prefer to have the brazilian graduated doctors to cover all the needs of the population, but the fact is that there are not enough available and amongst those available very few willing to move from the most advanced centers/cities to the interior or else to the “favelas” in the large urban centres. Cannot blame them. So I guess that the cuban doctors could be seen as something like “qualified nursing professionals” , “first aid experts, or “paramedics”. This can be a problem for more demanding needs of the population but may be it will be helpful for the majority of cases, of course excluding surgeries and more complex proceedings. Now, the key issue here, equally for Venezuela PSUV and Brazil’s PT is the political benefit. For many of these very poor people, having acess to a “doctor” – with whatever qualification they may have – turns PT into a “god given blessing” for them. A huge political manipulation asset indeed.


    • in practical terms most of the local medical doctors would never go to most of the places that the cubans are “voluntarily” ( if you know what I mean) going.

      I believe that some state supported medical schools in the US have an arrangement with medical students that in return for free tuition, the medical students practice in “needy” areas for several years to “pay off” their tuition.
      Could Brazil have a similar arrangement?


  6. I have heard from several Venezuelan doctors quite big criticisms about those Cubans. Of course, you can say they feel competition, but their accounts sound credible to me.

    For one, they tell me most Cuban “physicians” are no physicians at all but had some kind of general “health education” with no solid ground on such things as ANATOMY, physiology, biochemistry…they use drugs that are no longer considered good in the West. They, above all, distribute medicine, fix very basic stuff.


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