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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


A double miracle

I've been well aware of something called Operation Miracle, by which Cuba and Venezuela are collaborating to provide eye-care operations to hundreds of thousands of people; I've written about it here and here. The latest miracle is that the U.S. corporate press has discovered it, specifically, the Miami Herald, in a major article devoted to the program. As far as I can determine this is the first major article devoted to the subject in the corporate press, and one of the first mentions of it at all.

The article itself has the usual dose of cynicism, but most of it is just factual, and the facts talk louder than anything else. Here, for example, is the opening of the article:

Roberto Andrade sat in a hospital waiting room beside rows of patients, each with a bandage on one eye, and explained why he considers himself a diplomat of sorts.

The Salvadoran bus driver had cataract surgery on both eyes, courtesy of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

"In my country, a surgery like that costs $8,000," Andrade said. "I make $12 a day. I would never, ever, be able to save that much. Now I am an ambassador: I go around El Salvador telling everyone how well I was treated."

Andrade, 56, is one of nearly half a million people -- most of them Venezuelans -- to undergo eye surgery in Cuba in the past two years.
The cost to Andrade, and all the other patients? Exactly nothing, and that includes air transportation and hotel stays including meals!

In addition to the hospitals in Cuba, there are now 13 ophthalmologic centers in Venezuela, and clinics have opened in Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Bolivia. This month, Operation Miracle will spread to Africa and Asia, its directors have said. Soon, the program expects to serve at least 1 million patients a year.

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