DeLauro tells Obama to end program enticing Cuban doctors to defect

Washington – Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, doesn’t think President Obama has gone far enough in opening relations with Cuba — and has told him so.

She and 14 other liberal Democrats sent Obama a letter Wednesday that urged the end of a Bush-era program that made it easier for Cuban doctors to defect.

As part of its foreign policy, Cuba sends thousands of doctors and medical professionals to medically underserved areas of the globe.

In 2006, former President George Bush established the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that allowed Cuban medical personnel working for their government in a third country to emigrate legally to the United States. The program was established after Cuba developed a relationship with Venezuela that traded medical services for oil.

With Obama using his executive authority to ease travel and trade restrictions and urging Congress to lift the 54-year old U.S. trade embargo in his State of the Union speech, DeLauro said the medical professional parole program must end.

“The CMPP, which seeks to facilitate defections by Cuban medical professionals serving overseas to the United States, undermines our interests and weakens the ability of the international community to respond to critical health and humanitarian crises,” DeLauro and her colleagues wrote Obama. “Since the 1960s, Cuban medical professionals have been an invaluable resource for millions around the world who otherwise would have no access to medical care, and their contributions to containing the current Ebola outbreak are undeniable.”

The letter also said “this program exacerbates tensions between the U.S. and Cuba and undermines medical assistance from Cuba to poor countries.”

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