Photo: Archivo

El Alto, Bolivia.—On November 13, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced the decision to extend Operation Miracle, a humanitarian program launched by Cuba and Venezuela that has restored sight to more than 676,000 people.

“Today we are allocating some five million bolivianos ($719,000 USD) to this operation and we will continue to guarantee support to provide services to low-income families,” the president said at an event held in the city of El Alto, adjacent to La Paz.

Evo highlighted the solidarity and unconditional support of Cuban brothers and sisters, an example not only for Bolivia, but for the entire world.

He recalled that a cataract operation in a private health center in this country costs about $1,000 dollars and that if all treatments provided to date were added up, Cuba has saved the Bolivian people $338 million dollars.

The first indigenous president of the Andean nation highlighted the support provided by Cuba and Venezuela since the early years of the Democratic and Cultural Revolution, in sectors such as health and education.

Morales participated in the event to mark the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the El Alto ophthalmologic center, attended by Health Minister Ariana Campero, representative of the Pan American Health Organization, Fernando Leanes, and Cuban and Bolivian doctors and diplomatic staff.

Following the ceremony, the president and the Cuban Ambassador to Bolivia, Benigno Pérez, toured the facility, where the president underwent an eye examination.

“In this hospital alone, 104,071 patients affected by cataracts, pterygium and other diseases have been provided surgery,” the Cuban ambassador noted.

The diplomat also reported that of the 676,171 patients treated throughout the country, beyond the 547,294 Bolivians, the number includes more than 44,000 Argentines, 25,000 Peruvians, 59,000 Brazilians and about 300 Paraguayans.

Pérez recalled that Operation Miracle was an idea of the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, which began in 2004 with the goal of operating on six million Latin Americans and Caribbeans within ten years.

Pavel Noa, national coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade (BMC) in Bolivia, told Prensa Latina that the plan for this year is to perform 200 cataract and 100 pterygium operations each month in the ophthalmologic hospitals of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

The head of the BMC reported that currently 729 Cuban health workers are providing their services free of charge in the nine Bolivian departments.

He stressed that the anniversary of the El Alto ophthalmologic center also coincides with the ten years of the presence of the BMC here and 50 years since the arrival of Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara to Bolivia.