HAVANA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- The first group of 200 former guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) arrived Saturday to study medicine in Cuba part of a Cuban government scholarship program in contribution to the peace process in that South American nation.
At Havana's Jose Marti International Airport, the young beneficiaries of these 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," Colombian young man Juan Quijano told Xinhua.
Being a family member of a former FARC guerrilla, Quijano was given the opportunity to come to Cuba for a study of six years so as to become a doctor.
"We are very grateful of Cuba that gave us this opportunity to be future doctors and to be able to help our Colombian people," he added.
Meanwhile, Laura Herrera, a relative of a disarmed guerrilla, added that the scholarship from the Cuban government is 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," said the young woman.
Former guerrilla Vilmar Asprilla came with his comrades from Bogota for a long but necessary process for the peace of his country.h "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," said the former rebel.
Asprilla said that thanks to Cuba's offer of these 1,000 scholarships, 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 always admire 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 young Colombians will study the same medical curriculum as other students from different nations 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 in 5 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 guerrilla and the Colombian government over more than four years.