Angola is paying special attention to health care. Photo: Prensa Latina

Forty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that after five centuries of Portuguese colonialism, and 14 years of armed struggle, an African country could so successfully change the course of its history and rebuild itself. But Angola, celebrating 42 years of independence, has done so.

With the leadership of Agostinho Neto, and later José Eduardo dos Santos, the country created a broad-based program of integration and re-insertion for the underserved population.

The number of children with free access to education was increased significantly, thanks to pubic policies prioritizing teacher training and the construction of schools at all levels.

According to UNICEF, the country's annual rate of economic growth, between

1990 and 2012, was 4.1%. The UN organization's website estimates that, during the period 2007-2011, public spending on healthcare, as a percentage of the GDP, stood at 2.1, while that allocated to education was 3.5%.

As a country emerging from war, during which Angolans shared trenches with Cubans who joined them in solidarity, the nation was obliged to do more in less time, to recuperate what was lost.

As an example, the mortality rate for children under five years of age, which stood at 213 per 1,000 live births in 1990, was reduced to 164 by 2012.

After peace was won, in April of 2002, the process of national reconciliation and consolidation of democracy allowed for many accomplishments, noted by the international community, including the country's rapid economic growth and social gains over the last 15 years, which have won Angola respect around the world.

The government not only looks inward, but also extends its vision to the entire continent, with the goal of ensuring Africa a sovereign, equitable position in international bodies and relations.

Angolans feel that talking about their country, means talking about Cuba as well. Students who have graduated from the island's universities, interviewed on several occasions, have expressed their gratitude to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and the people.

Likewise, Cubans completing internationalist missions in Angola make the nation's culture their own.

According to the country's embassy in Havana, more than 3,000 Cuban collaborators are currently working in Angola, in the areas of heath, education, and civil construction, in all of the nation's 18 provinces.

This is only a sample reflecting the historic relations of friendship and collaboration, in all arenas, shared by the two countries.

Professionals who have worked with Angolans, despite the ocean separating the countries, speak of the process of constructing a country concerned about its men and women, that is the development of human resources that serve as the foundation for social and economic growth.

Angola has taken concrete steps to reduce poverty, working on specific policies directed toward supporting women and youth, and increasingly facilitating micro-credits for some communities. Value is placed on small farmers' agricultural production, which should become sufficient to meet their needs.

The nation of Agostinho Neto continues to seek a more just society. While the rebuilding advances step by step, also sought are the consolidation of peace and the strengthening democracy, while unity and national cohesion are preserved, by promoting the development of a responsible, active civil society, with political inclusion of all citizens, without discrimination.