US program makes it easy for Cuban doctors to defect

The “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program” allows Cuban Doctors to easily defect to U.S. (Photo by Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH via Getty Images)

The “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program” allows Cuban Doctors to easily defect to U.S. (Photo by Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH via Getty Images)

The New York Times posted an editorial Monday about how hundreds of Cuban doctors could defect to the U.S. while they treat Ebola patients in West Africa.
Cuban doctors serving in West Africa could easily apply to the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.”

The program allows doctors and other Cuban health professionals working in a third country at the behest of the Cuban government to defect to the United States. Those who are accepted can be on American soil within weeks, on track to becoming U.S. citizens

The NY Times also reported that the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program,” enabled 1,278 Cubans to defect while on overseas assignments, a record number.

“American immigration policy should give priority to the world’s neediest refugees and persecuted people. It should not be used to exacerbate the brain drain of an adversarial nation at a time when improved relations between the two countries are a worthwhile, realistic goal,” the NY times said. “It’s incongruous for the United States to value the contributions of Cuban doctors who are sent by their government to assist in international crises like the 2010 Haiti earthquake while working to subvert that government by making defection so easy.”

Cuba’s health care system was degraded by the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early ’90s, and in recent years, the government has sent health workers to Venezuela and Brazil, in exchange for badly needed hard currency and oil. Those programs make up one of the largest sources of income for the island.

According to Cuban government figures, more than 440,000 of the island’s 11 million citizens are employed in the health sector.

The decline of Catholicism in Latin America

Latin America is losing its Catholic identity. (Juliana Barrera/Voxxi)

Latin America is losing its Catholic identity. (Juliana Barrera/Voxxi)

A new survey by the Pew Research Center, “Religion in Latin America,” reveals that Latin Americans born into Roman Catholic families have increasingly left the faith for Protestant churches.

Latin America remains home to an estimated 40 percent of the planet’s Catholic population. But the survey finds that 19 percent of Latin Americans now describe themselves as Protestant.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.20.18 PM

Why are Latin Americans leaving the Catholic Church for Protestantism?

The survey asked respondents to rate eight possible explanations. Protestants who converted from Catholicism most frequently say they “wanted a more personal experience with God.” Other commonly cited reasons include the style of worship at their new church and a desire for greater emphasis on morality.

What about the “Francis effect?”

The research also showed that Pope Francis is highly popular and influential in Latin America, with two-thirds or more of the population expressing a positive opinion.

“The Catholic Church’s status in Latin America has drawn more attention since Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope in March 2013, taking the name Francis.” The Pew reported, “while it is too soon to know whether Francis can stop or reverse the church’s losses in the region, the new survey finds that people who are currently Catholic overwhelmingly view Francis favorably and consider his papacy a major change for the church.” 

<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-326883″ src=”″ alt=”Catholicism in Latin America.” width=”300″ height=”210″ />

Why is Latin America cooling on Catholicism? (Juliana Barrera/Voxxi)

However, the authors of the Pew report said former Catholics are more pessimistic of the pope than those still in the Church, he is highly regarded by a majority of ex-Catholics only in Argentina and Uruguay. Significant percentages of former Catholics also say it’s too soon to tell whether Francis represents real change, or to identify a tangible “Francis effect.”

What about Hispanics Catholics in the U.S.?

The ratio of decline in Latin American Catholics is similar to those who live in the U.S., the “New York Times” noted, where large numbers of those raised Catholic, Hispanic and non-Hispanic, have abandoned the church.

 According to PEW research, “Nearly a quarter of Hispanic adults in the United States were raised Catholic but have since left the faith, while just 2 percent of U.S. Hispanics have converted to Catholicism after being raised in another religious tradition or with no affiliation.”

The survey was conducted from October 2013 to February 2014 in every Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country in Latin America, except for Cuba.

Mafalda’s creator wins Prince of Asturias Award

Argentine cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, who created the famous comic strip Mafalda wins Prince of Asturias Award. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Argentine cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, who created the famous comic strip Mafalda wins Prince of Asturias Award. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

The Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, creator of the legendary cartoon “Mafalda,” has been honored today with the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.

“Marking the 50th anniversary of Mafalda’s birth, the lucid messages of Quino prevail for having combined wisdom and simplicity in a drawing with the depth of his thinking,” Director of the Cervantes Institute and chairman of the jury that granted the Argentine cartoonist the award, Víctor García de la Concha said today.

The first Mafalda cartoon was published on September 29, 1964. Mafalda was a rebellious, smart and sarcastic girl, who was mainly concerned about world peace and human rights, the character hated soup and loved the Beatles.

Mafalda was published from 1964 to 1973. The comic was translated into more than 30 languages.

Mafalda is also recognized as the protagonist for human rights campaigns in Argentina for organizations such as UNICEF.

The Prince of Asturias Awards are intended to reward the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work of individuals, institutions, groups or institutions throughout the world.

In communications and humanities, it recognizes those who make an important contribution to universal culture in humanities activities and social media.