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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02TEGUCIGALPA3145
2002-11-19 14:32:00
SECRET
Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

(S) HONDURAS HAS MANY CUBAN DOCTORS; MADURO

Tags:  PREL EAID PGOV ETTC PINR SMIG ASEC HO CU 
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						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 003145 

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR WHA, WHA/CCA, AND WHA/CEN
STATE FOR INR, S/CT, DS/ICI/ITA, AND PRM
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2012
TAGS: PREL EAID PGOV ETTC PINR SMIG ASEC HO CU
SUBJECT: (S) HONDURAS HAS MANY CUBAN DOCTORS; MADURO
CONCERNED OVER INTELLIGENCE WORK BUT NO GOH PLANS TO
CURTAIL GOC ASSISTANCE

REF: A. PIERCE/FISK E-MAIL NOVEMBER

B. TEGUCIGALPA 3076

C. STATE 205386 (ALL NOTAL)

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Roger Pierce;
Reasons 1.5 (B) and (D).



1. (S) Summary: There are approximately 100-225 Cuban
doctors and nurses in Honduras. A bilateral treaty between
the GOH and the GOC governs the program. In addition, there
are approximately 500 Hondurans studying medicine in Cuba on
GOC scholarships. President Ricardo Maduro told Ambassador
November 12 that he was very concerned with the intelligence
activities of the Cuban Medical Brigade, and that he was not
aware of any immediate plans to accept the Cuban nomination
of Dr. Elis Alberto Gonzalez Polanco, Chief of the Cuban
Medical Brigade, as the first Cuban Ambassador to Honduras.
Nevertheless, the GOH is not likely to curtail any of its
medical assistance programs with Cuba. End Summary.

Cuban Doctors and Nurses in Honduras


--------------------------





2. (U) PolOff delivered reftel C demarche on Cuban doctors
November 5 to MFA DG for Foreign Policy AMB Mario Fortin.
PolOff emphasized talking points about the disadvantages of
accepting Cuban doctors. PolOff also gave Fortin detailed
information on USAID and Peace Corps health projects in
Honduras, which are substantial.



3. (SBU) Fortin told PolOff that the GOH had a bilateral
treaty with the GOC governing the Cuban Medical Brigades
program in Honduras. Note: USAID has asked the Ministry of
Health for a copy of the treaty, which Post will fax to
WHA/CEN and WHA/CCA if a copy is obtained. End Note. Fortin
said that the GOH sets the total numbers of doctors the
Cubans can bring to Honduras and decides where the doctors
go. Typically the Cuban doctors are sent to rural areas or
other hard-to-staff areas where Honduran doctors do not want
to go. Note: PolOff and ConOff briefly met a Cuban doctor at
the National Mental Hospital during a joint CONS/POL tour of
the facility. End Note.



4. (SBU) Fortin estimated there are approximately 100 Cuban
doctors in Honduras. USAID estimates that there are
approximately 227 Cuban doctors and nurses in Honduras at any
given time, and that approximately one-third of the Cubans
are women. Fortin said that the Cuban doctors must return to
Cuba when their six-month stay was complete. He said there
had not been any requests for political asylum or any other
problems. USAID has learned that 20 of the Cuban
doctors/nurses have asked to stay in Honduras. Fortin said
that the GOH does not pay the doctors salaries, but does pay
a small amount (approximately USD 75/doctor) via PAHO to the
doctors.



5. (C) Fortin claimed that the GOC had not used the
assistance by the doctors to try to get GOH support for Cuba
in multilateral fora.



6. (S) President Ricardo Maduro told Ambassador November 12
that he was very concerned with the intelligence activities
of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Honduras, saying that he was
convinced they were up to mischief (ref A). In addition,
Maduro said that he was not aware of any immediate plans to
accept the Cuban nomination of Dr. Elis Alberto Gonzalez
Polanco, Chief of the Cuban Medical Brigade, as the first
Cuban Ambassador to Honduras since the GOH normalized
diplomatic relations with Cuba January 26, 2002 (see ref B
for more information on that issue). Maduro reiterated that
he was in no hurry to act on this issue and promised
Ambassador that he would consult with the Embassy prior to
any announcement of the acceptance of a Cuban ambassador.
Maduro said that he would look very closely at the proposed
candidate's background to assure that it was not problematic
in terms of unacceptable activities, including human rights
violations.

Honduran Med Students in Cuba; Cuban Professors in Honduras


--------------------------



--------------------------





7. (SBU) In addition, Fortin said there are approximately 500
Hondurans currently studying medicine in Cuba on GOC
scholarships, with 100 starting each year. Fortin said that
several private universities also have agreements directly
with the GOC to bring Cuban professors to Honduras to teach.
He said that the professors are paid approximately USD
200/month directly, not via the GOC, for a period of six
months to one year. He said there had not been any problems
or requests for political asylum from the professors. Post
also notes that Minister of Public Health Elias Lizardo has
traveled to Cuba a couple times in 2002 and that some
Hondurans travel to Cuba for medical treatment.

GTMO Cubans and Rafters


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Fortin said that the lack of problems with the Cuban
doctors and professors was in contrast to the Cubans who came
to Honduras from Guantanamo. Of the twelve families, Fortin
said that most had left Honduras, with the majority of those
going to Mexico or the U.S. illegally. He termed the program
a complete failure. In an unrelated meeting with
International Organization of Migration (IOM) official
Norberto Giron November 13, Giron told PolOff that to the
best of IOM's knowledge all of the Cubans resettled from
Guantanamo had left Honduras illegally for either Mexico or
the U.S. Fortin also told PolOff that in the past a small
number of rafters have arrived on the Caribbean coast of
Honduras and have been granted political asylum.

Honduras Willing to Accept Cuban Doctors Despite Negatives


--------------------------



--------------------------





9. (S) Comment: It is apparent to Post that the GOH is not
likely to curtail any of its medical assistance programs with
Cuba. As a poor, developing country with a limited public
health system, the GOH is unlikely to turn down any offers of
assistance, even when aspects of the program concern the
president himself. Post is pleased to note President
Maduro's hesitancy in moving forward on the Cubans'
nomination of Polanco for ambassador. Post expects that
Maduro will stick to his promise to Ambassador to consult
with the Embassy before making any announcement on a Cuban
ambassador. Post is hopeful that Maduro will either continue
to delay a decision or reject Polanco's nomination outright.
End Comment.
PALMER