The Agreement was signed in Caracas on October 30, 2000, by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, motivated by the desire to strengthen the traditional ties of friendship between the two countries.
According to the text, the parties signed the agreement “conscious of their common interest to promote and encourage the progress of their respective economies and the reciprocal benefits resulting from cooperation which provides effective results in regards to the economic and social progress of their respective countries and the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The agreement also covers the areas of sport, energy, culture, agriculture, education and health, giving priority to the latter two with the creation of the Misión Barrio Adentro (Into the Neighborhood Mission), the Training Program for Latin American Doctors, Operation Miracle, which began four years after the agreement; and Misión Sonrisa (Mission Smile).
The agreement has six articles which outline, for example, that in the implementation of cooperation projects “the participation of public and private sector organizations and entities of both countries will be considered and, where necessary, of universities, research bodies and non-governmental organizations.” Among other matters, it stipulates that Cuba will provide free medical services, specialists and health technicians to Venezuela, to work in locations where these personnel are not available. Meanwhile, Venezuela will cover accommodation costs, meals and internal transportation.
It also commits to a “mechanism for compliance and monitoring of cooperation activities under this Agreement,” for which “the parties will establish a Joint Committee composed of representatives of both Governments, which will meet every year alternately in Caracas and Havana.”
The text adds that this Joint Commission will establish working groups under the responsibility of the respective ministers of each country, to facilitate cooperative relations in various sectors as defined in the Agreement.
The first measure contained within the Agreement to be implemented took place 30 days after its signing with the arrival, on November 30, 2000, of the first flight of patients corresponding to the Care Program for Venezuelan Patients in Cuba.
46 patients and 45 companions arrived on the island. Since then, every year the program has grown. Up until 2014, over 1,750,000 lives had been saved, 780 million medical consultations were performed and there were 477 flights to Cuba, benefiting 60,000 people, through these health cooperation agreements, according to the Venezuelan Vice Minister of Supreme Social Happiness, Carolina Cestari.
The health care network in this period also conducted over 10,000 consultations in neighborhoods, villages and rural areas, saving the lives of more than 1.75 million Venezuelans, according to figures from the Venezuelan Ministry of Health.