August 22 Havana Cuba: Over 300 Caribbean medical students were
among the 1,610 doctors from 28 nations who graduated at a historic event in Havana. The graduation ceremony attended
by over 20 foreign dignataries and outstanding political figures from Latin American and the Caribbean, washailed by Cuban
officials as one without precedence.It was the first class of doctors
freshed out from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM, in Spanish) since its creation seven years ago, where there
are over 12,000 youths from 83 countries, including the Uunited States, currently studying medicine.
Among the 1,610 medical doctors who received their diplomas Saturday night at the ceremony held at Havana´s Karl Marx Theatre,
Cuba´s largest, were 459 graduates from South America, 771 from Central American and 343 from the Caribbean.
The presidents of Panama, Venezuela and Cuba, Martin Torrijos, Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro respectively, as well as the
prime ministers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves; of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, and of St. Kitts
and Nevis, Denzil Douglas, presided over the historic ceremony.
Also at the presidential stand were relevant members of the ministerial cabinets of Bahamas, Dominica, Guayana, Belize,
Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, Guatemala and Surinam.
Other outstanding figures that witnessed the graduation at Karl Marx Theatre, Cuba´s largest, were Schafick Handall, presidential
candidate in El Salvador, former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and Reverend Lucius Walker, who leads a solidarity movement
with Cuba in the US.
Invited to address the ceremony, Prime Minister Gonsalves highlighted what he termed a great friendly effort by Cuba in
creating ELAM, which has no equal in the world, and in training youths coming from humble families thus making a grand contribution
to Third World nations.
For his part, President Fidel Castro said there are over 12,000 students from 83 countries studying medicine in Cuba.
The Cuban leader added the students come from South America (5,500) Central America (3,244), Mexico (489), United States
(65) and Puerto Rico (2).
The Caribbean, with 1,039 students, and sub-Saharan Africa (777) are also represented, while 42 students come from Northern
Africa and the Middle East, 61 from Asia and two from Europe.