Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Kate Centellas

Relational Format



Shortly following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, communist leaders Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro made it a top priority to address the poor health of the country's citizens. By developing a large pool of physicians, Cuba instituted groundbreaking approaches to biomedicine that emphasize prevention and the physiciancommunity relationship. The high physicians per capita ratio also permitted Cuba to develop its now famous system of international biomedical diplomacy. Cuba's successes domestically and abroad occur within the context of the regional geopolitical environment, in which Cuba is subjugated to extraordinary economic pressures from the U.S. embargo. The superior health of the Cuban national body despite substantial barriers serves as physical evidence to validate the communist principles established in the Revolution. This opposition to Western hegemony has allowed Cuba to become a leader and form partners in the region, such as Venezuela. The Cuban-Ecuadorian relationship is much newer, and is mainly focused on a project in which Cuban physicians are contracted by the Ecuadorian government. While this is the current focus, actions by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa indicate that Ecuador will use this project to shift his country's ideology to one that is more similar to that of Cuba. Though still developing, the Cuban-Ecuadorian relationship provides Ecuador with the opportunity to improve its health care system while increasing its regional influence by becoming a coleader with Cuba in the region.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



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