When Florida state legislators Senator Rene(cito) García (R-Hialeah) and Represenatative Manny “El Bueno” Díaz (R-Miami Lakes) each filed legislation in their respective chambers that would prohibit graduates of Cuban medical schools from practicing medicine in Florida, my initial reaction was to commend them (I always encourage anything that kicks the Castro regime in the teeth).
That being said, I also decided to dig a little deeper to investigate where they were coming from.
But before I get into that, here is a summary of their proposed legislation:
Senate Bill 456 and House Bill 517 would specifically prohibit U.S. Citizens or residents who have traveled to Cuba and obtained a medical degree from practicing in Florida, but exempts those exiles who obtained such training prior to their immigration to the United States.
In filing the Legislation, Representative Diaz stated:
U.S students who turn a blind eye to basic human and civil rights abuses in Cuba do not possess the moral clarity to serve patients in Florida. The Fidel Castro medical scholarship program is purely a propaganda tool. Hopefully this legislation will stop American citizens from participating in Cuba’s medical apartheid system.
The apartheid system which Díaz refers to is the rampant, institutional inequality that exists in the access to healthcare in Cuba between paying tourists, high-ranking government officials, and other VIP who enjoy state-of-the-art care in modern facilities, and everyday Cuban citizens who are subject to shortages, outdated equipment, deadly waiting periods, and sub-par care in the island’s dilapidated hospitals and clinics.
Despite these inequalities, thousands of students from around the world have taken advantage of Cuba’s “free” training at its so-called “Latin American Medical School” (ELAM). As of last year, roughly 150 American students have participated in this program.
Many in this country, even some critics of the dictatorship, have not expressed outrage over Americans attending ELAM because it is touted as a sort of scholarship that offers “free” training and schooling to “poor medical students” who otherwise would be unable to afford it in the United States or elsewhere.
However, there are more than just poor, less fortunate youths being chosen by the Castro regime to attend ELAM.
For example, take this article published by PBS Newshour titled “Cuba offers poor medical students a free ride.” The article basically discusses the program with a number of “testimonials” from students.
I just happened to come across this article while doing research for this post, and discovered that the last testimonial in the article comes from none other than a high school classmate of mine, Cassandra Cusack Curbelo. Talk about a small world!
Anyway, this classmate is anything but the “poor” student that the Castro scholarship program purports to target. The daughters of two prominent attorneys, she and her sister attended the private school I graduated from until about the 9th Grade–a school that was anything but inexpensive in those days.
Aside from being an attorney, her father Pat Cusack was the Democrat nominee for US Congress who challenged then-Congressman and staunch Castro critic Lincoln Diaz-Balart back in 2000. Her mother Barbara Curbelo-Cusack, also an attorney, is an outspoken supporter of the Castro regime.
Such is her mother’s extremist left-wing views, that in 2008 she penned an op-ed for the ultra-leftist Progresso Weekly blog where she accused Miami’s exiled Cubans–not Castro–of “crimes against humanity;” called for the release of five Cuban spies who were convicted in U.S. courts of trying to infiltrate a U.S. military installation and various Cuban exile groups; defended Hugo Chávez; and heaped grotesquely vomitous praise on Cuba’s “free education system,” “best healthcare system on the planet,” and–get your barf bag ready– Cuba’s “free elections!”
These are not the views of your everyday misguided liberal or Democrat. This is a rabid, Castro-sympathizing Communist who views her fellow Cuban-Americans with utter contempt for daring to oppose the murderous, Stalinist regime that stole everything from them, divided their families, killed loved ones, and destroyed a once-great, productive society.
What’s more, the Progresso Weekly blog appears to be funded by the Marazul Travel Agency, which specializes in trips to Cuba and is owned by ardent Castro sympathizer Francisco Aruca. He and his wife Ann contributed to Pat Cusack’s failed 2000 congressional campaign, and, if memory serves me, Barbara Curbelo-Cusack once either worked for or was somehow officially linked to Marazul, but I haven’t been able to find any documentation online to prove it–I just remember something along those lines.
So, these are the well-to-do, well-connected, ardently pro-Castro parents of one of the American participants in Cuba’s medical scholarship program who documented her ELAM experience in the self-proclaimed “independent socialist” publication Monthly Review. In it, she recalls her “opportunity to share the dream of helping others by returning to the land where her grandparents had been revolutionaries.” Her own bio reads, in part:
Cassandra is from Hialeah, near Miami, Florida. Her mother was born in Cuba and came to the US with Cassandra’s grandparents shortly after the 1959 revolution due to misinformation being spread by the US. Her grandparents soon felt that they had been tricked. They are still strong supporters of the revolution.
Even her younger sister Carmen, who I also remember from our high school days, has also traveled Cuba numerous times and defends its system.
That’s three generations devoted to promoting and defending Cuba’s Stalinist dictatorship, all while living the comfortable lifestyle that the very American capitalist system they despise provides them. Quite the family.
But i digress.
So what does this all mean? It’s very simple.
Indeed, Castro is using his ELAM program to indoctrinate poor, low-income American students into his perverse communist worldview, as Cuban-American critics such as Senator Garcia and Representative Diaz claim. Even if the dictatorship contends that no explicit political indoctrination is taking place, just providing these foreign students free tuition, room, and board while glossing over the blatant civil and human rights abuses happening all around them paints a totally false picture of this bastard regime, and that alone is indoctrination enough.
However, that’s only half of what’s going on.
It is evident that Castro is also importing extreme leftists from the United States into Cuba and using them as de facto apparatchicks to reaffirm the propaganda he feeds to his people and other ELAM students.
What better way to legitimize your anti-American, anti-capitalist drivel than to have actual “native victims” of that system echo your message to your people?
Castro, therefore, is using ELAM not only export his brand of socialist revolution via “armies” of indoctrinated doctors (to borrow the word from the pictured banner), but also to shore up and cement his own power at home.
As such, anyone who desires freedom for the Cuban people should look past the false pretenses of helping poor students and focus on what the real goal is: to rehabilitate the regime’s bad image around the world, export its brand of socialist revolution, and cling on to power.
In conclusion, I must say that it gave me heartburn to expose a former classmate who was nothing but kind to me and others during our time in school. That being said, it is a shame that she and her family have chosen to backstab their own community and embrace a murderous, tyrannical, atheist regime like Castro’s.
Shame on them and all those students who allow themselves to be used for such diabolical plots and for selfishly turning a blind eye to the gross inequality, institutional apartheid, and rampant civil and human rights abuses that the Castro tyranny has foisted on the Cuban people for over five decades.
They don’t deserve to practice medicine here. What they deserve is our contempt.
Due to my inability to find current contact information for those mentioned in this post, I was unable request comments. If any of them would like to offer a rebuttal or issue a statement, they are more than welcome to contact me or post comments below.