Cuba is a Caribbean island which has been under American commercial, economic and financial embargo since 1958.
The American sanctions have made life difficult for average Cubans, although the embargo was aimed at isolating Cuba’s government from the rest of the world which was hoped would lead to the collapse of the Castro regime.
However, Cuba’s communist government made many friends throughout Latin America and is respected by much of the world for its role in international humanitarian aid, particularly in the medical area
Cuba has recently been acting as a mediator to end some of Latin America’s longest wars such as the Columbian conflict between the FARC and the Colombian government which has lasted for decades and caused the deaths of thousands of people.
At the end of 2016, the Columbian government and the Farc rebels have signed a peace deal, Cuba has taken an important role to end the conflict and has offered scholarship opportunities for over a thousand Columbians to study in Cuba’s world leading medical institution “Cuba has offered Colombia 1,000 medical school scholarships to support a peace accord in which the South American country’s largest rebel army will relinquish its weapons, officials announced on Thursday” (Associated Press, 2017)
For decades Cuba has sent its doctors to corners of the world, to who treat people for free, there are more than “51,000 Cuban doctors around the world” the bulk of them are in developing nations who are in dire need of medical aid as they do not have enough doctors to take care of the health needs of their population. (The Huffington Post)
On the other hand some argue that Cuba’s aim is not about humanitarianism but a way to get hard cash since the island nation faces a shortage of cash as a result of the American embargo “The goal is to earn hard currency and advance other financial goals of the regime while gaining influence, prestige, legitimacy, and sympathy abroad” (World Affairs Journal, 2013)
Former president of the United States Barrack Obama has taken steps to restore relations between the two nations before he left power, this was welcomed by much of the international community.
In conclusion whether Cuba exports its doctors to get political leverage and financial gains or not, the Cuban doctors have had profound positive impact on many patients throughout the developing nations, people who would not have been able to get operations such as eye surgeries for the partially blinded, that have successfully restored the vision of many patients throughout Africa and Asia. This free generosity by the Cuban government has undoubtedly made the US embargo on Cuba very unpopular with other states.
Associated Press (2017) Cuba offers Colombia 1,000 medical school scholarships
The Huffington Post Cuba’s Soft Power: Exporting Doctors Rather Than Revolution
World Affairs Journal (2013) Cuba’s Health-Care Diplomacy: The Business of Humanitarianism