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Viewing cable 10CARACAS187, Increased Harassment of Approved Cuban Medical Parolees

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CARACAS187 2010-02-12 20:08 2010-11-30 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
VZCZCXRO2979
RR RUEHAG RUEHAO RUEHNG RUEHROV RUEHRS RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #0187/01 0432020
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 122020Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0463
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 000187 

SIPDIS 
HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG 
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI 
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA 
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/12 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM CU VE
SUBJECT: Increased Harassment of Approved Cuban Medical Parolees 

REF: 09 CARACAS 1374; 09 CARACAS 442 

CLASSIFIED BY: Robin D. Meyer, Political Counselor, DOS, POL; REASON: 
1.4(B), (D) 

1. (C) Summary: Harassment of Cuban Medical parolees has 
increased significantly since December 2009. Recent media 
coverage has exacerbated difficulties experienced by parolees 
attempting to exit Venezuela. These Cuban medical professionals 
who staff President Chavez's flagship medical service program for 
the poor, Barrio Adentro, report that they inflate their patient 
numbers and are required to conduct political work. Cubans who 
have abandoned their Barrio Adentro clinics find it difficult to 
legalize their presence and benefit from basic services. Most 
parolees do make it out of Venezuela, but some undergo a harrowing 
ordeal before being able to exit. End Summary. 



HARASSMENT OF CUBAN MEDICAL PAROLEES 

2. (C) In the last two months, Cubans approved for humanitarian 
parole through the Cuban Medical Professionals Program (CMPP) at 
Embassy Caracas have experienced increased difficulty leaving 
Venezuela through the MaiquetC-a (Caracas) airport. Almost all 
experience some sort of harassment, ranging from passports being 
confiscated to physical and verbal abuse. Many of those who are 
allowed to board their flights to Miami are only able to do so 
after paying sizeable bribes (generally $700-$1000) to Venezuelan 
immigration officials or Cuban officials who are said to be working 
at the airport. From 2009-2010, more than 20 parolees have been 
detained for extensive questioning, which has reportedly included 
verbal and physical abuse, confiscation of official and regular 
passports, strip search, and threats of deportation. Most of those 
Cubans detained are not allowed to proceed to their flights. 
However, there have been no reports of these parolees actually 
being deported to Cuba, and they have all been released after 
several hours of detention. In fact, most parolees eventually make 
it out on a subsequent attempt. 



MEDIA COVERAGE MAKES IT WORSE 

3. (C) The problem has been exacerbated by January 2010 news 
coverage of the CMPP in U.S., Venezuelan, and Colombian media 
outlets. Harassment has increased significantly since the first 
article was published in the Miami Herald on January 7 and was 
subsequently picked up by Globovision and other media outlets in 
Venezuela. Some CMP parolees have chosen to transfer their cases 
to Colombia rather than take the risk of leaving via Venezuela. 
Others have simply traveled to Colombia and departed using the 
travel documents issued in Caracas. Since 2009, 10 of those unable 
to fly have crossed the border to Colombia and have flown to Miami 
from BogotC!. There are no reports of harassment once parolees are 
in Colombia. 



FAKE STATISTICS AND POLITICAL WORK 

4. (C) Post collected the following anecdotal evidence recounting 
the difficulties applicants encounter during and after the mission. 
While in the mission, applicants live off a very a meager stipend 
(967 Bolivares Fuertes per month, approximately $372 USD at the 
official exchange rate) and work six days a week. Doctors are 
required to see 50-70 patients daily, a number unattainable for 
most doctors who, in reality, average 10-20 patients. Almost all 
applicants claim they are forced to doctor their statistics to meet 
these requirements. Many applicants also describe mandatory 
political work, especially around elections, when applicants are 
instructed to read propaganda in clinics and gather potential 
voters. In addition, they are often required to staff politically 
charged health drives on Sundays. (Note: Some Venezuelans have 
accused Barrio Adentro of being primarily a political program. See 
Ref A for more details. End Note.) 



CUBANS' PLIGHT AFTER ABANDONING THE MISSIONS 

CARACAS 00000187 002 OF 002 


5. (C) Applicants encounter severe difficulties once they abandon 
the mission. At this point, the applicants are considered illegal 
immigrants and are subject to deportation. Most find it difficult 
to ever legalize their stay in Venezuela or benefit from basic 
services. One applicant gave birth the day after her parole was 
accepted but has been unable to get a Venezuelan passport for her 
child. Officials told her that they are forbidden to give passports 
to "deserters." Other Cubans have not been able to legally marry in 
Venezuela. While there is no confirmed deportation of a parolee, an 
applicant was recently sent back to Cuba as a precautionary measure 
when his girlfriend abandoned the mission. 



CMPP NUMBERS TO DATE 

6. (C) 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. 



7. (C) COMMENT: Post generally receives CMPP approvals in large 
batches. Given the parole requirements of traveling within 21 days 
of YY foil issuance, many parolees attempt to exit Venezuela during 
the same time period. This creates a situation whereby these 
applicants will travel in waves. Post is unaware whether 
harassment is the result of deliberate Government of the Bolivarian 
Republic of Venezuela (GBRV) guidance or based on the actions of 
individual immigration officers. Certainly, the recent publicity 
about Cuban doctors bribing Venezuelan and Cuban officials has put 
an unwelcome spotlight on the program. Yet it does seem clear that 
the GBRV does not yet systematically attempt to detain all 
parolees. Finally, the information provided by the applicants 
during the interview process appears to corroborate claims from 
many Venezuelans that the Barrio Adentro program is as focused on 
political propaganda as it is on improving health. 
DUDDY