U.S. Med Students in Cuba Bring Centralized Medicine Push Home

Javier Galeano/AP
Javier Galeano/AP

American Lillian Burnett of Oakland, California is four years into a medical school in the communist country of Cuba, where she says she has been taught that physicians have a role in gun violence and police brutality issues.

Under a specific exception to prior U.S. restrictions on Cuba, American students have studied at a medical school in the U.S. embargoed country since 2001 and have done so tuition free under the Cuban government, facilitated in partnership with U.S. interfaith organization Pastors for Peace, which promotes the program to American students.

Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM) hosts students from around the globe, conducting classes solely in Spanish. Mashable reports 100 American graduates of the school as of 2014 and another 100 current enrollees. The first non-transfer class graduated in 2007 was comprised of four students from New York, three from California, and one Minnesotan, according to USA Today.

Burnett was one ELAM student recently highlighted in Mashable. Soon after her 2005 UC Berkeley graduation, Burnett was wooed through a presentation on ELAM by the interfaith group Pastors for Peace (PFP) at Laney College in Oakland. The presentation included ELAM grad Luther Castillo, who lauded his experience bringing ELAM’s methods to Honduras.

Four years into the program, Burnett was quoted in Mashable saying, “Cubans would say there’s a role the physician has to play around addressing gun violence in the community, around addressing addiction in the community, addressing police brutality in the community.”

The Castro regime has funded the education of ELAM students, though for the Americans that funding is administrated through an IFCO/Pastors for Peace partnership, Mashable reports. U.S. students must commit to return to and “practice medicine in poor and underserved US communities” as a condition of the funding.

Additionally, PFP states on its website, “We continue working for an end to the travel restrictions and all US sanctions against Cuba — and we hope you will join us in this work.”

2007 ELAM graduates slated for return to the U.S. praised Cuba’s centralized health care system.

One 2007 graduate, Dr. Carmen Landau of Oakland, California, praised Michael Moore’s film “SiCKO” as “an inspiration.” Reuters reported on the graduates and noted that Moore’s movie condemned the U.S. for-profit medical system. Landau made clear her intention to push to bring the centralized model for medicine back to the U.S. with her.

Landau returned from studying at Cuba’s ELAM medical school in 2007 and subsequently came to work at the abortion clinic Southwest Women’s options in Albuquerque, New Mexico. PJ Media reported in 2013 that she was recorded on camera as part of a Live Action undercover investigation into abortion clinics. In the video Landau tells the undercover investigator that an abortion would be like getting a “flu shot or a vaccine.”

Mashable cites statistics from nonprofit MEDICC that record 10,000 students at ELAM and 23,000 graduates from 2005 to 2014. MEDICC states that in Haiti it has worked with Global Links and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on a “new, sustainable public health system.”

The interfaith PFP organization is now seeing their push for removal of U.S. sanctions on Cuba realized with the Obama administration’s easing of sanctions earlier this year.

Under January changes to U.S. sanctions on Cuba, “Measures will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes,” as well as “authorize certain transactions with Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba, and allow a number of other activities related to, among other areas, telecommunications, financial services, trade, and shipping.”

The Obama administration announced Cuba’s removal from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in mid-April. The move came despite continued, “ties to Marxist, jihadist, and other separatist terrorist organizations,” Breitbart News previously reported.

Breitbart News subsequently reported on a 70% increase in political arrests, beatings, and detentions in Cuba as the Obama administration eased sanctions on the communist regime.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana


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