Wikileaks: Data on what Cuba sacrifices for Venezuela oil

Cuba permanently loses about 200 doctors a year in return for its Venezuelan oil supply. Nice to have the data, though the publishing of this data will likely make life even harder for people who want to abandon Cuba via Venezuela in the future. Says the US. embassy in Caracas, per Wikileaks:

From 2006 to 2007, 497 Cubans applied for parole through the CMPP at Embassy Caracas. 407 of those applicants were approved, 70 were denied, and 8 cases are still pending. In 2008, there were 201 applicants, 154 approvals, 28 denials, and 8 cases are still pending. In 2009, Embassy Caracas received 237 applications, 161 of which were approved, 36 denied, and 40 still pending. There have not been any approvals or denials yet in 2010. Since Post began to use YY foils instead of transportation letters in March 2009 (due to fraud concerns), 277 of such foils have been issued. It should be noted that the vast majority of our approved CMPP applicants actually do successfully leave Venezuela. Most
successfully leave on their first attempt flying out of Venezuela with a visa foil or travel letter. Those that are initially detained have apparently often been able to bribe their way out on a subsequent attempt. The rest, as noted above, have made the trek to Colombia and been able to get on a flight to Miami.

The main part of the report focuses on how some of these people — parolees or deserters, depending on your perspective — have been harassed at the airport and had to pay bribes, but the report ends with the note above, saying that they do end up getting out. So it turns out Cuba is paying a significant price for its oil trade with Venezuela, in the loss of hundreds of highly trained professionals. Alas for Venezuela, the benefit accrues to the USA.


12 thoughts on “Wikileaks: Data on what Cuba sacrifices for Venezuela oil

  1. firepigette

    The Cuban doctors are surely a loss for Cuba, but they would not, nor should not, be able to compete with US doctors who are more highly trained.

    However I could imagine that for those who speak English it would be interesting for them to be placed in a kind a fast track program to becoming physicians assistants or Nurse practitioners.They could earn well and almost replace doctors in many instances.

    The problem is the mafia in US education today, but seeing as how they are Cubans I am sure many idiots will see it as good propaganda.

    The world as it is working today, absolutely sucks.

    Personally, from what I have seen regarding Cubans in Miami, it is a crying shame that so many have formed a little mafia, thinking that they own the city,and keeping out Venezuelans and other folks from Latin America-Not to mention that so many Cubans in Miami have expressed their own lack of enthusiasm for recent immigrants who expect not to work hard but for the State to take care of them.They are a far cry from the original group of hardwoking Cubans who landed in Miami.

    So how much of it would benefit the US, should be considered a highly subjective affair.In my opinion it would not be.

    Still I feel for these doctors who are caught between a rock and a hard place.

  2. Francisco Toro

    I don’t normally have a violently disgusted reaction to your posts, Setty, so I’m assuming there’s a crossed line here somewhere, but I almost choked on my cornflakes reading this.

    Cuban doctors, Setty, aren’t like barrels of oil – things to be produced and traded, assets on some balance sheet. They aren’t chattel. That the Castro Bros. treat them as such – effectively using their work as payment for Venezuelan oil is a disgrace: state sponsored people trafficking on a massive scale. But for you to adopt the same framing…

    It’s utterly fucked. Really very bad. Depending on how you do the math, the effective marginal tax rate that these doctors face is between 90 and 97% – the Castro Bros. have the grace to let them pocket maybe 3%-10% of the value of the oil they get in return for them. When Nike makes people work in conditions like that, they face a huge public outcry. When Cuba and Venezuela do it, it’s revolutionary socialism.

  3. Francisco Toro

    In other words, if you were blogging in 1856, would you write a post about runaway slaves from the point of view of their owners’ balance sheet?

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      Yes, among other things. You know why slavery was “banned” in Chile, the northern U.S., Argentina, etc — it wasn’t entirely out of respect for human rights, it was banned because it was considered less profitable than wage slavery. So yes, economic aspects are very interesting, and often more dispositive, than arguments to rights or simple empathy.

      I hope the basis for your disgust turns out to be that your corn flakes were moldy. It seems you think that this is all I care about in the U.S.’s repatriation of Cubans. It’s not. But it is the news. We started hearing about Cuban doctors going to the U.S. years ago, and then there was that lawsuit that exposd some of the troubles they have in Venezuela (referred to obliquely in the embassy memo as “press coverage”). Of course I’m happy with anyone increasing their own liberty, even if it’s a tragic situation where their families will pay consequences for their decision. And of course I’m happy the U.S. still occasionally lives up to its creed, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But that act alone doesn’t overcome the U.S’s refusal to grant even temporary entry to, for example, any Canadian who has ever been arrested. Or for that matter, the U.S’s rejection of visas for scores of Cuban doctors. I wasn’t going to get into all that, and instead focused on the numbers — which while a drop in the U.S. bucket, seem like a potentially significant impact to the small island nation of Cuba.

      1. Fombona

        Interestingly, Cuba in the eighteen hundreds was a key player in the anti-slavery debates. The economic arguments were strong then. A solution, to import indentured workers from China, with the help of English-based companies.
        If not slaves, the Cuban “doctors” of Barrio Adentro fit into that age-old Anglo-Cuban tradition of indenture.

  4. island canuck

    Slavery / Indenture – the bottom line is many of these doctors arrive on the shores of Venezuela against their wills, taken away from their families & given no freedoms while in Venezuela.

    I had the opportunity to speak at length with one while his “keeper” was busy.
    Because I was a Canadian he opened up to me about his family back in Cuba & his desire to return as soon as possible. He also explained all the restrictions he was under.

    These people are slaves in the pure sense of the word.

    1. firepigette

      Sapitosetty and Dr Mathews,

      Perhaps you should contemplate the difference between poetry and legal language.

      “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

      This does not mean that the US has to accept all people who want to live there.

      Extreme literal thinking.Please.

  5. sapitosetty Post author

    Yes, you’re right. In fact, according to her biographer, Emma Lazarus complained frequently in her later years that the whole poem had been misedited by propagandists aiming to make the USA appear inappropriately glamorous. The original text of her poem The New Colossus was, apparently:

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose lamp
    Shall interrogate the refugees and blame
    Them for their exile. From her beacon-eyes
    Glows world-wide warning; her carrier groups command
    All air-bridged harbors that twin cities frame.
    “Take ancient lands, our storied rage!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Five copies of the forms and proper fee,
    Three full-face photos we can then ignore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I drop my gate across the golden door!”

  6. locojhon

    First off, the Cuban doctors’ entire education was paid for since day one by the state with the expectation that the education would be ‘paid for’ by work/service upon graduation, was it not? So, isn’t leaving one’s ‘obligation’ behind a type of theft?.
    Secondly, I’m surprised the term ‘brain drain’ hasn’t been used above, as it is part of what determines who legally gets into the US and who is kept out. Another determinative factor is our particular need for human assets at the time of entry.
    The words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ” should be appended with “presupposing they make the US stronger, and your native country weaker.”
    US immigration policy isn’t about helping others–it’s about helping ourselves to the most valuable resources of all nations–usually, their most-highly educated, most highly motivated, and most creative human resources. The process simultaneously enhances the US while impoverishing all others, and is a big reason why the USA became the most-dominant nation in the history of the planet.
    At least that’s how I see it,,,others?

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