More Cuban Doctors Than Ever Defecting From Venezuela To South Florida

Nov 11, 2014

A Cuban doctor gives a patient a vaccination at a clinic for the poor in Venezuela.
Credit United Nations / Flickr

How bad are things in Venezuela? Even doctors from Cuba – one of the hemisphere’s most economically deprived countries – want out of Hugo Chávez's revolution. And now we know just how many are defecting.

Communist Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela, its key South American ally. In return, Cuba gets oil at a deep discount. 

That was a good deal for Cuban doctors when Venezuela’s economy was healthy. But Venezuela’s own socialist blunders have brought the country to one of its worst economic crises. Shortages of food, basic products and especially medical supplies have gotten critical even by Cuban standards.

Now those doctors are bolting Venezuela through neighboring Brazil and Colombia to come to the U.S. In fact, the number of defections in the past year has more than doubled from the previous year to 700. That’s according to the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.

Solidarity Without Borders, a Miami group that helps those doctors, says almost all of them come to South Florida.