During the presidency of late Bolivarian leader Hugo Chavez, an indissoluble friendship relation was forged between Venezuela and Cuba, based on mutual respect and solidarity. It is not then by chance that President Nicolás Maduro has visited the Caribbean island on his first trip abroad after assuming office as Venezuela's leader.
The aim of the visit was to further consolidate the friendship ties between two nations, which are determined to continue working together toward a better future for both our peoples and for all Latin American and Caribbean peoples.
As further evidence of the strong cooperation links between Cuba and Venezuela, more than 40 thousand Cuban doctors have offered their services in the South American nation over the past decade in health missions like Barrio Adentro, with a strong social impact since it has taken health care services to remote, isolated places in Venezuela, where there had never been a doctor before.
For the first time ever, the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society had access to basic health care assistance. Over the past 10 years since the initiative was first launched, the Cuban health specialists have treated more than 500 million Venezuelan patients.
Bilateral cooperation in the field of health has also provided for the opening of more than six thousand 712 doctor's officies, 571 comprehensive health care centers, 583 rehabilitation units and 35 specialized centers throughout Venezuela.
The truth is that the Comprehensive Cooperation Accord between Cuba and Venezuela is an essential part of the ongoing mechanisms towards integration among all Latin American and Caribbean nations and peoples, since it has not only benefited the peoples of Venezuela and Cuba, but all regional peoples as well. Evidence of this is the free eye-surgery program called 'Operación Milagro' (Operation Miracle), which has returned or improved the eye-sight of millions of low-income patients, needing the surgical procedure in all of Latin America, and even beyond.
Cooperation between Havana and Caracas is not limited to health care, it extends to several other key social and economic areas as well, primarily education. A literacy campaign with Cuba's assistance was launched by the government of Hugo Chavez, under wich more than one million 700 thousand Venezuelans learned how to read and write. Thanks to this, UNESCO declared Venezuela an Illiteracy-Free Territory in 2005.
During the brief, but fruitful visit to Cuba by Nicolas Maduro, new cooperation agreements were penned, worth 2 billion dollars, including 51 joint projects in such areas as education, health, sports, culture, food, construction, transportation, communications and energy.
The 13th session of the Cuba-Venezuela Inter-governmental Commission concluded with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the approval and implementation of an economic agenda for the medium and long-term period.
No doubt, bilateral ties between Cuba and Venezuela have entered a new stage, qualitatively superior, and which represents a unique example for the rest of the world.