US poor on their way to Venezuela for treatment in Operation Miracle

Campaign News | Saturday, 20 May 2006

Cuban/ Venezuelan project to restore sight to the needy reaches the US

Caracas, May 19 (Prensa Latina) The first group of US citizens will arrive in Venezuela on the Fourth of July, as part of Operation Miracle that provides free ophthalmology surgery for poor patients from the continent, and soon from Africa as well.

Operation Miracle, provided by Cuba and Venezuela, is part of ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), the cooperative, integrating alternative to the FTAA pushed by the United States.

Venezuela?s President Hugo Chavez made the offer to restore vision to poor people in the US who cannot afford the operation there. He also provided heating oil for the poor in seven US regions this winter, through CITGO, which is an affiliate of Petroleos de Venezuela.

The Cuban-Venezuelan project aims to treat 600,000 people a year, most frequently those suffering from cataracts and conjunctive tumors, and plans to have treated six million by 2015.

Lara State, west of Caracas, is a stronghold of the mission and its hospitals have already operated on people from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Colombia, and Chile.

Let There Be Light: A short film about Operation Miracle is available from CSC: See CubaSi section on this website for details.

Castro's 'miracle' cures the poor of blindness

From the UK's Independent newspaper

By Tom Fawthrop in Havana

Published: 18 December 2005

The rich tourists whose luxury yachts once crowded the idyllic Marina Hemingway complex on the outskirts of the Cuban capital are shocked to find all Havana's hotel rooms fully booked until mid-2006. More than a dozen hotels have been temporarily closed to tourists to make way for a different kind of visitor. Most of them arrive nearly blind; but all will be able to see perfectly before they leave.

A remarkable humanitarian programme is under way here, which aims to restore the sight of six million people through free eye surgery. Launched in July by the 79-year-old Cuban President, Fidel Castro, and Venezuela's Socialist leader, President Hugo Chavez, Operation Miracle has brought daily planeloads of the poor from across Latin America and the Caribbean to Havana for surgery. Cuba provides the medical skills, Venezuela the petro-dollars.

People suffering from cataracts and other eye conditions that can be quickly remedied are candidates.

Cuba's comprehensive, free healthcare system has a ratio of one doctor for every 170 Cubans, compared with 188 in the US and 250 in the UK.

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