Join Camilo Garcia, a 20-year veteran of the Ministry of Foreign Relations for a conversation about Cuba’s modern-day diplomacy. Camilo Garcia is an invited professor at the University of Havana and a 20-year veteran of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. With diplomatic experience in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and United Nations, he has unparalleled insight on Cuba’s place in the world. Now working at an audiovisual production company and artistic events, he also has a background in cultural organizations and he will join us for a wide-ranging discussion of Cuba’s social, political and economic challenges.

Alma Mater statue at the entrance to the University of Havana

Foreign Relations Overview

After the revolution, and with the support of the Soviet bloc, Cuba engaged in military interventions across Africa and Latin America. At least 200,000 members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces served abroad during the Cold War era, either in anti-colonial invasions or as advisors to Communist movements.

When the USSR fell, Cuba terminated all of its major militaristic interventions. And as a small economy dependant on the global market, they took a more pragmatic approach to foreign policy. The island has since forged deeper ties with Bolivia, China, Russia, and especially Venezuela. In all, Havana has formal relationships with 160 nations and sits on the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as a number of intergovernmental organizations in the Western Hemisphere.

Cuban Medical Internationalism

Cuba’s most influential export isn’t rum, sugar, or even tobacco – it’s healthcare. Because since 1960, Havana has sent hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers abroad in response to natural disasters, outbreaks, and war. Originally, this medical aid was an extension of Cuba’s anti-colonial policy but has adopted a more humanitarian angle since the 90s. 

By numbers alone, the program’s success is staggering. According to the Latin American and Carribean Center, Cuban healthcare workers have “attended 2.6 million births, conducted 9.1 million surgeries, administered 12.8 million vaccinations, saved an estimated 5.7 million lives, and trained over 50,000 international medical students from rural, poor, and marginalized regions.”

In 2007, a study found that Cuba provides more medical personnel to developing nations than all G8 countries combined (including the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany). This was recently on display during West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, when Cuba was the world’s largest provider of healthcare staff to the region.

Shifting US-relations often dominate Cuba’s diplomacy narrative, but the story doesn’t stop there. And you’ll gain an unparalleled understanding during our conversation with Camilo Garcia. 

This experience is available on our Undiscovered Cuba tour or can be integrated into a custom-made itinerary