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How Nice: "Hippocrates Meets Fidel"

Marc Lacey's provides the Cuban regime some positive PR. Plus: Does the U.S. "tar" Castro "as a dictator who suppresses his people"?

Marc Laceyprovides the Castro regime some positive PR in his Friday report on a Havana medical school offering free medical training to some left-wing American students ("Hippocrates Meets Fidel, and Even U.S. Students Enroll.")


Lacey, who on Sunday called Castro's Communist reign "a work in progress," insists in his Friday story: "It is a strong personal desire to practice medicine that drives the students here more than any affinity for Mr. Castro. Those from the United States in particular insist that they want to become doctors, not politicians. They recoil at the notion that they are propaganda tools for Cuba, as critics suggest.


ThenLacey forwardssome nauseatingly naïve pro-Cuba and pro-Che Guevarapropaganda from some students old enough to know better, and an allegation that the U.S. "tars" Castro as a dictator, as if that's not the simple truth of the matter.


"'They ask no one to be political - it's your choice,' said Jamar Williams, 27, of Brooklyn, a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany. 'Many students decide to be political. They go to rallies and read political books. But you can lie low.'


"Still, the Cuban authorities are eager to show off this school as a sign of the country's compassion and its standing in the world. And some students cannot help responding to the sympathetic portrayal of Mr. Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people.


"'In my country many see Fidel Castro as a bad leader,' said Rolando Bonilla, 23, a Panamanian who is in his second year of the six-year program. 'My view has changed. I now know what he represents for this country. I identify with him.'


"Fátima Flores, 20, of Mexico sympathized with Mr. Castro's government even before she was accepted for the program. 'When we become doctors we can spread his influence,' she said. 'Medicine is not just something scientific. It's a way of serving the public. Look at Che.'


"Che Guevara was an Argentine medical doctor before he became a revolutionary who fought alongside Mr. Castro in the rugged reaches of eastern Cuba and then lost his life in Bolivia while further spreading the cause."


The "revolutionary" Che was also a mass murderer, but never mind.


Deep in the article, Lacey does a gloss on the ideological screening process of students by a left-wing pro-Cuba group: "Like other students from the United States, she was screened for the Cuba program by Pastors for Peace, a New York organization opposed to Washington's trade embargo against the island."