NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 17, 2006

Fidel Castro's vaunted overseas "free" medical program for the poor, which sent doctors to the slums of Caracas and elsewhere, is falling apart as doctors choose defection, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD). 

  • In Bolivia, at least 30 Cuban doctors out of 719 defected to freedom, according to Bolivian media.
  • In Venezuela, 4,000 Cuban doctors out of 15,000 also fled the country, Union Radio reported.

The result of the defections can be seen in the remnants of the program:

  • In western Caracas, a red-brick octagonal medical kiosk, the visible symbol of Castro's Cuban doctor operation, is boarded up; it was installed supposedly to provide 24-hour medical service to poor areas, but the doctors are gone.
  • Along the old Caracas/La Guaira highway, three more of the distinctive Cuban brick compounds, one after another, also were recently seen boarded up.
  • In the truly poor Caracas slums, known as ranchos, where cardboard boxes and corrugated steel serve as housing, no Cuban doctor kiosks are there at all.

It's no surprise why they did it, says IBD.  Defecting doctors say they are essentially there for a political purpose rather than to practice medicine.  Their "free" medical care amounts to industrial "dumping," putting real doctors out of business in places such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Central America.

Instead of showing the "humanity" of socialist medicine over the profit-driven capitalist kind as Castro intended, the current fiasco has shown that "free" medical care is as much in shortage in Caracas as it is in Havana, explains IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Doctors Flee South America Sick Man," Investor's Business Daily, July 15, 2006


Browse more articles on Health Issues