Friday, December 08, 2006

Education, Cuban style

Back in the mid 1990s, Fidel Castro had this great idea of opening up a Medical School just outside Havana to teach medicine, Cuban style, to hundreds of Latin American students. At no cost to the students.

For altruistic reasons, you understand. A great humanitarian deed by a great global humanitarian.

Well, there is an interesting article in today’s edition of the International Herald Tribune about the Latin American School of Medical Sciences - and what its students get taught.

Among the more traditional courses, such as anatomy and biochemistry, they also get taught what the newspaper rather coyly describes as “a bit of socialist theory”. You know, like why Castro is such a great humanitarian.

The article zooms in on the experiences of a couple of American black students attending the school, including 27-year-old Jamar Williams, who rejects any criticism the school and its students are “propaganda tools” for the Castro regime.

"They ask no one to be political," Williams told the paper. "It's your choice.”

Funnily, most of the other students interviewed seemed to had chosen to be political, as in Castro political.

Like Fatima Flores, a 20 year old Mexican “activist” who told the paper, in reference to the dictator: “When we become doctors, we can spread his influence. Medicine is not just something scientific. It's a way of serving the public. Look at Che."

But my favourite quote comes from the dean of the School, Dr. Juan Carrizo Estevez, who described his students thus: "They are completing the dreams of our Comandante. As he said, they are true missionaries, true apostles of health."

A great humanitarian, indeed.


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