—I am in my 6th year of medical school at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM). The program was conceived by the Cuban Communist Party and more directly, by Fidel Castro, which is why we are commonly referred to as “the children of Fidel.”
I had to come to Cuba because my country was in turmoil the year I was ready to go to college. That was not the only reason I decided to come to this country. I have always been sympathetic towards Cuba and its attempt to develop a socialist system. In addition, I felt that experiencing another culture would contribute to my personal growth.
I was 19 when I arrived here. The economic and social situation in my country was critical. The rampant inflation increasingly affected the workers, especially those with little purchasing power.
For many Argentinean workers’ children, Cuba came to represent a beacon of hope that would keep alive their dreams of attending university and returning home one day to improve the lives of their families.
I personally shared all these incentives, without any reserve. However, in addition, during my stay on the island, I hoped to objectively confirm or refute the preconceptions heard in my country regarding the Cuban system.
The Argentine association that selected me to receive the scholarship had informed me of the requirements for participating in the program according to the Cuban embassy. First, they asked for the per capita income of my family and second, they made perfectly clear two commitments I had to make: I must return to my place of origin upon finishing my studies to serve those in most need and I must not in any way interfere in the political affairs of Cuba.
This was reconfirmed in another way at the Cuban embassy in Buenos Aires where we were invited along with our parents a few days before our trip.
They played a beautiful video that showed us the residence where we would be studying and informed us of what the Cuban government would provide. It also stated that the Cuba would not in anyway attempt to influence the political conscience of those studying on the island.
Although to some it was quite a relief to not have to broach such an “absurd” topic as what had been going on in our country almost daily since the “Argentinazo” of December 2001, but for me it came as a complete shock that broke with some of my ideas and projects, while at the same time confirming the articles I had read regarding the policy of the Cuban Communist Party.
Without hastily abandoning my ideas, I began to think about my impending trip. What would I find in such a controversial country located in the Caribbean, where even the climate might overwhelm me? How true would the words be of that old man with the opaque beard talking of creating socialism in a Latin American country? I would have time to overcome my doubts and forge concrete ideas that would guide me on.