Let there be Light

Spring 2006

New short film about Operation Miracle is a must see

Since 2004, more than 200,000 people from Latin America and the Caribbean have received free eye operations in Cuba as part of Operation Miracle.

This joint Cuban-Venezuelan initiative is the subject of “Let there be Light” a new short film by renowned Cuban documentary maker Roberto Chile.

In this moving 12 minute film, the beneficiaries of free eye operations from across the Caribbean and Latin America give personal testimonies and express their gratitude to the country and the people who have changed their lives with a simple operation.

Operation Miracle is an extraordinary humanitarian programme which plans to offer free treatment to an estimated 4.5 million people suffering from eye-afflictions in Latin America and the Caribbean region over a ten-year period.

In the film, we hear from people of all ages who are able to see again thanks to the project. From a father whose baby daughter previously had no sight in one eye to a young mechanic whose sudden blindness left him unable to work until his operation in Cuba.

The film includes interviews with Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has sent hundreds of patients to Cuba for the free operations. “It’s humanity at its best. It is something that has never happened before in the world. It is an incredible gesture of international solidarity. Its impact in the region has been spectacular and touched the needs of people directly,” says Mr Gonsalves.

As part of the project, teams of Cuban doctors assess applicants for eye surgery before sending them to Havana on special flights, currently from ten Caribbean countries and more than 15 Latin American nations. The patients spend the night and a short recovery time in Cuban hotels. In fact, there are so many people receiving operations in Cuba today, many hotels which were previously used for the tourist industry have been turned into rest and recouperation centres for thousands of patients.

On August 20 2005, Cuba achieved what is almost certainly a world record - performing 1,648 eye operations at 20 hospitals in a single day. “Over 500 Jamaicans have come here, some of them were blind, all of them poor. Now you see them staring with awe after the operation ...they can see again. Operation Miracle really is a miracle.” said Elinor Sherlock, Jamaica’s ambassador to Cuba.

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