American Cuban Flags


The governments of the U.S. and Cuba currently are in the process of re-establishing diplomatic relations. Concurrently, they also are following steps to bring to the U.S. a Cuban-developed, therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer.

What a world of difference! In 2005, during the horrendous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. rejected Cuba's generous offer to send a cadre of its well-trained doctors to assist in the crisis. That magnanimous offer was declined mainly because of the political clout of embittered, expatriate Cubans in the U.S. This faction -- currently having its water carried by two aspirants to the U.S. presidency, both of Cuban heritage – has grown progressively bitter with the passage of time. They lament the loss of their upper class, White privilege in a Cuba that practiced racial discrimination; tolerated rampant illiteracy; and a sub-standard economy; and a gross lack of healthcare for the great unwashed. Overseeing this social devastation was a dictator who was interested only in accommodating the gambling, night club and prostitution promotors from the U.S., with special emphasis on Hollywood.

An interesting irony is the state of those social bugaboos listed above: Since the revolution: racial discrimination immediately was eliminated; Cuba as one of the highest literacy rates in the world; Cuba is competitive as regards the numbers of doctors per capita. One big problem that remains is the stringent, U.S.-imposed depression of the Cuban economy! Why would a colossal nation like the U.S. keep its boot upon a powerless island in the Caribbean for more than half a century – after that island had unseated a dictator and so radically bettered the living conditions of its people? The excuse is that they refused to live up to our standards. If that were true, we would administer the same treatment to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East potentates; the new-czarist Russia; and the still-Communist China – for starters. The real reason takes us back to Square One: Miami – and its now-dwindling political potency.

Cuba's role in the field of medicine is legend. It produces doctors as easily as the U.S. produces prisoners. Without favor or fee, Cuba has dispatched its skillful physicians throughout the world, to meet all kinds of emergencies.

Cuba has one of the largest medical schools in the world. Its Escuela latinoamericana de medicina (ELAM) welcomes students from all over the world, including the U.S. The six-year course at Hospital Salvador Allende is taught in Spanish. The training encompasses a holistic regime that includes not only the body, but all environmental factors. It emphasizes group responsibility, with no regard to the national provenance of the student. They are grouped in small cells for teaching, studying and examination. Those who are stronger are required to bring along the others.

The Cuban government provides most of the scholarships. The only stipulation is that graduates return home and practice their craft in underserved sectors of the community. As of 2014, ELAM had graduated 23,000 students from more than 120 countries, since 2005.

Even with a lessening of the Florida-based, anti-Castro political pressure, President Obama is bold to break both Republican and Democratic tradition by singlehandedly re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Trade relations is the province of the U.S. congress. Breaking down a wall of distrust between us and a neighbor just 90 miles off our coast can bode only good for all involved.

As a cultural, political and temporal reminder: Elián González is 21 years of age!


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Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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