Cuba trains disadvantaged US medical students
Kay Brennan Leeds
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have become the first from the United States to study medicine in Cuba.
Eight high school graduates, including two from the Bronx in New York, have received scholarships to the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Havana. They will study alongside aspiring doctors from 24 Latin American, Caribbean, and African nations. Chosen from more than 100 applicants, the students intend to return to the US and practise medicine in the same poor communities where they grew up.
Cuban officials hope that the scheme, which was suggested by the president Fidel Castro to visiting members of the US Congress in Havana, will help Americans have a better understanding of Cuba. The US government agreed to the scheme, recognising the programme as a cultural and educational exchange. Critics, however, say that the students are being used as mere propaganda tools.
Dagoberto Rodriguez, the Cuban foreign ministry's director