Doc­tors of fu­ture ar­rive for stud­ies as part of peace plan

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

HA­VANA — The first group of 200 for­mer guer­ril­las of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia (FARC) ar­rived in Cuba on Satur­day to study medicine as part of a schol­ar­ship pro­gram to pro­mote the peace process in the South Amer­i­can coun­try.

At Ha­vana’s Jose Marti In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the schol­ar­ships were re­ceived by Cuba’s For­eign Min­istry and Health Min­istry, among oth­ers.

“Medicine in Cuba is one of the best in Latin Amer­ica and for us it’s a great achieve­ment to be here and study medicine,” Juan Qui­jano said.

Be­ing a fam­ily mem­ber of a for­mer FARC guer­rilla, Qui­jano was given the op­por­tu­nity to come to Cuba to study for six years to be­come a doc­tor.

“We are very grate­ful to Cuba for giv­ing us this op­por­tu­nity to be fu­ture doc­tors and to be able to help our Colom­bian peo­ple,” he said.

Laura Her­rera, also a rel­a­tive of a for­mer guer­rilla, de­scribed the schol­ar­ship as a “dream come true”.

“Cuba is the cra­dle of Latin Amer­i­can sol­i­dar­ity and its medicine one of the best in the world — we are go­ing to be doc­tors of con­science and sci­ence,” she said.

For­mer guer­rilla Vil­mar Asprilla came with his com­rades from Bo­gota for what he said is a long but nec­es­sary process for the peace of his coun­try.

“As a mem­ber of the FARC guer­rilla, I be­lieve that it is an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion from Cuba to the peace process and we hope to be­come doc­tors in the next six years to con­trib­ute to our so­ci­ety,” he said.

Asprilla said that thanks to Cuba’s of­fer of 1,000 scholar-

for­mer guer­ril­las from the Revo­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces have taken up med­i­cal schol­ar­ships in Cuba

ships, young peo­ple who pre­vi­ously had no fu­ture in Colom­bia will be able to get a uni­ver­sity de­gree.

“We are the first group and com­ing to study in Cuba is a great honor for us. We’ve al­ways ad­mired Cuban medicine,” he said.

The ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be­gin their study at the Latin Amer­i­can School of Medicine (ELAM) in Septem­ber.

ELAM direc­tor, An­to­nio Lopez, said the Colom­bians will study the same cur­ricu­lum as stu­dents from other coun­tries who study in the Caribbean is­land.

“We as­sume a great re­spon­si­bil­ity as a school be­cause these peo­ple come from a dif­fer­ent so­cial sys­tem and were in­volved in an armed con­flict for a long time. It is a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple for us to train them as good doc­tors,” he said.

The Cuban gov­ern­ment an­nounced the 1,000 med­i­cal schol­ar­ships for FARC mem­bers and vic­tims of the Colom­bian armed con­flict.

The schol­ar­ships, di­vided into 200 an­nu­ally for the next five years, rep­re­sent Cuba’s con­tri­bu­tion to the im­ple­men­ta­tion process of the Colom­bian peace agree­ments signed in Ha­vana last year.

Cuba hosted peace talks be­tween the guer­ril­las and the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment for more than four years.

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