Photo: Program website

A variety of definitions of cooperation or aid to development are available in the existing literature, although none is valid at all times, in all places. Thus every country has its own, reflecting its foreign policy with respect to bilateral and multi-lateral relations, for both public and private actors.

In Cuba's case, international cooperation is an essential component of the Revolution's foreign policy, and reflects the fundamental values of solidarity and humanism which this society defends. Cooperation is offered unconditionally, with absolute respect for the sovereignty, laws, culture, religion, and self-determination of states, while its use as a political instrument of intervention is rejected.

Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

Cooperation for Cuba is also an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and can be mutually beneficial economically. Given its importance in this sense, as well as the political sphere, cooperation was reflected in the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines approved by the 6th Party Congress, along with the principles to be followed as such activity is undertaken.

Cuba has offered its cooperation to 186 countries over a period of more than 50 years, via work done both abroad and on the island. Efforts in the fields of healthcare, education, and sports have been the most outstanding, beginning with the country's first contributions, in the early 1960s, with medical brigades sent to assist the peoples of Chile and Algeria.

The results obtained in literacy campaigns have marked cooperation in education. Those conducted in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mozambique and Angola, with the decisive participation of Cuban professionals, are a gratifying example of what has been done in this area.

Photo: Granma

The participation of Cuban sports professionals in collaborative efforts, to raise the competitive level of athletes in more than 100 nations, has also been significant.

Cuba's most important contribution internationally has, no doubt, been in the field of healthcare, given its humanitarian character, made clear by the Revolution's commitment to train a large number of medical professionals.

Beginning in 1998, cooperation via the Comprehensive Health Program, offered to Central American countries hit by Hurricane Mitch, was expanded to include more nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia.

Photo: Alberto Borrego

Worthy of mention is the work of the Henry Reeve Brigade which has assisted peoples affected by natural disasters and severe epidemics around the world, best known for its contribution combating the Ebola virus in 2015, in Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leona, where the West African epidemic was stemmed and many lives saved.

From the economic point of view, in 2014 Cuban health services provided abroad were valued at close to eight billion CUC, constituting more than 60% of the country's total sales of international services.

Another key example of Cuban collaboration is the training of health professionals

for developing countries, especially in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.