Monday, February 4, 2008

Cuba's doctor diplomacy

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, inaugurated last month, has made relations with Cuba a diplomatic priority. His new government’s first official visit was that of Vice President Rafael Espada, who traveled to Cuba last week.

There was lots of talk of good relations and increased cooperation. “We have much to learn” from Cuba, Espada said. He recalled to La Jornada that Cuba was the first to provide emergency aid after recent hurricanes. 294 Cuban doctors are now working in Guatemala, and 347 Guatemalans are earning medical degrees at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine. The two governments plan greater cooperation in the health sector, and will explore ways to collaborate in energy, mining, and petroleum.

Coverage in Spanish from La Jornada here, AP here, and ANSA here.

This was not an earth-shaking event by any means, but it illustrates a reality that a) helps to drive Cuban diplomacy and b) frustrates U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba and to enlist other countries in pressing for political change in Cuba.

Guatemala, like other Latin American countries, has a democratic system but does not reject relations with Cuba. For Latin American countries, relations with Cuba and votes to condemn the U.S. embargo at the UN have long been a low-cost way to needle Washington. But today, something more important is in play: the concrete benefits of Cuban medical and educational aid programs. Even as Cuba admits that the aid programs are straining delivery of medical services at home, there’s no denying that these programs help to consolidate relationships abroad.

And as this visit, last month’s Brazilian visit and aid package, and other developments show, Cuban diplomacy has not gone on vacation since Fidel Castro left the scene.


Anonymous said...

...more opportunities to defect!

Anonymous said...

we spread bombs (and with or against us ideology), they spread doctors ..

While both methods are surely propoganda tools of each repsective country, one can see why Fidel is (unfortuneatly) more liked on the international scene than the U.S.

Why do you think no other country in the world has embargo on Cuba??

Anonymous said...

don't be a sap...the U.S. provides more foreign assistance around the world in a day than Cuba does in a year...