Guess who’s training U.S. doctors?

American students who dream of being doctors often must take out enormous loans to pay for medical school. But eight American students from low-income backgrounds recently got their medical degrees without having to spend a penny. Through a deal between Cuban President Fidel Castro and members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, they received six-year ...

600355_070727_cuba_05.jpg
600355_070727_cuba_05.jpg

American students who dream of being doctors often must take out enormous loans to pay for medical school. But eight American students from low-income backgrounds recently got their medical degrees without having to spend a penny. Through a deal between Cuban President Fidel Castro and members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, they received six-year scholarships to attend Havana's Latin American Medical School, which is recognized by the World Health Organization. Cuba paid for the students' schooling, accommodations, textbooks, and uniforms.

JOE RAEDLE/Getty Images News

It's a clever twist on what FP editor Moisés Naím terms "rogue aid," but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of students from countries around the world attend the Latin American Medical School. Additionally, Cuba has sent tens of thousands of its doctors to developing countries over the years to provide medical assistance, writes Ignacio Ramonet in a recent FP debate with Carlos Alberto Montaner. The Cuban healthcare system was also recently cast in a positive light in Michael Moore's documentary Sicko, in which 9/11 rescue workers end up getting free medical care in Havana. (Though Moore's case for universal healthcare in the United States would probably have been stronger had he left Cuba out of the picture.)

American students who dream of being doctors often must take out enormous loans to pay for medical school. But eight American students from low-income backgrounds recently got their medical degrees without having to spend a penny. Through a deal between Cuban President Fidel Castro and members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, they received six-year scholarships to attend Havana’s Latin American Medical School, which is recognized by the World Health Organization. Cuba paid for the students’ schooling, accommodations, textbooks, and uniforms.

JOE RAEDLE/Getty Images News

It’s a clever twist on what FP editor Moisés Naím terms “rogue aid,” but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of students from countries around the world attend the Latin American Medical School. Additionally, Cuba has sent tens of thousands of its doctors to developing countries over the years to provide medical assistance, writes Ignacio Ramonet in a recent FP debate with Carlos Alberto Montaner. The Cuban healthcare system was also recently cast in a positive light in Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, in which 9/11 rescue workers end up getting free medical care in Havana. (Though Moore’s case for universal healthcare in the United States would probably have been stronger had he left Cuba out of the picture.)

Cuba’s healthcare diplomacy reminds me of Hugo Chávez’s efforts earlier this year to provide discounted heating oil to poor Americans, which haven’t won the Venezuelan president any brownie points in the United States. Given how strong anti-Castro sentiment is here, it’s doubtful Cuba’s training of U.S. doctors will do much to win American hearts and minds, either.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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