Doctors of future arrive for studies as part of peace plan
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.