According to a report by Reuters, the US may end a program that encourages Cuban doctors and nurses on overseas assignments to defect, a senior aide to President Barack Obama said.
Started under President George Bush in 2006, The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program targets one of Cuba’s proudest achievements: sending doctors, nurses and other medical professionals abroad, either on missions of mercy or to raise cash for the Communist government.
It is open to more than 50,000 Cuban medical professionals in more than 60 countries.
The program has now been placed under review, said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor to Obama who was part of the negotiating team that reached detente with Cuba a year ago after 18 months of secret talks.
“It’s an unusual policy, and I think as we look at the whole totality of the relationship, this is something that we felt was worth being in the list of things that we consider,” Rhodes told Reuters.
The United States has approved 7,117 applications since 2006. The numbers have grown in recently, reaching a record 1,663 in fiscal year 2015. The US Department of Homeland Security administers the program jointly with the State Department.
Cuba has called the program a “reprehensible practice” that is designed to, “deprive Cuba and many other countries of vital human resources.”