On July 9, on the initiative of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, late president of Venezuela, Operation Miracle – a program providing comprehensive medical care to patients suffering from a variety of eye conditions – was founded.
According to figures provided by the Cuban Ophthalmology Institute, during its first year only Venezuelan patients were treated under the program, at the Ramón Pando Ferrer Hospital in Havana. Surgeries were also performed in Santiago de Cuba and Holguín.
In 2005, the program was extended to other Caribbean, Central and South American countries. Initially all patients traveled to Cuba to be treated, however in 2006 ophthalmology centers were set up in various nations, making treatment more readily available to those most in need.