Tags: Cuba | Venezuela | Castro | Maduro

Castro Urges Defense of Ally Maduro in Venezuela

Sunday, 15 Jun 2014 10:09 AM

Cuban President Raul Castro warned allies Saturday that Havana's closest ally Venezuela needed support amid fallout from deadly anti-government protests.

"Venezuela today needs our staunchest support," Castro, 83, said in a rare international speech at a Group 77+China meeting in Bolivia.

"The oligarchs who could not get rid of President Hugo Chavez think the time has come to topple the Bolivarian revolution and President (Nicolas) Maduro," Castro argued, calling the elected socialist government in Caracas "the front line of independence, freedom and dignity."

Maduro is the closest regional ally of Cuba, the region's only one-party communist state.

Venezuelan economic support is critical to keeping the Cuban government and economy afloat.

Cash-strapped Havana still has a centrally planned economy and cannot get access to international loans, and Venezuela supplies it with cut-rate oil.

But inflation near 60 percent, widespread shortages of basic goods and soaring crime have plunged Venezuela — an oil-rich OPEC member — into political and economic crisis.

Anti-government protests have rattled Venezuela since February, leaving at least 41 people dead and more than 600 injured, with opposing sides trading blame for the violence.

G-77 host Bolivian President Evo Morales, also an elected socialist, said that if the United States meddles militarily in Venezuela, it will have a new Vietnam on its hands.

"If Mr. (Barack) Obama keeps assailing the people of Venezuela, I am convinced that, faced with provocation and aggression, Venezuela and Latin America will be a second Vietnam for the United States," Morales told the crowd.

"Let us defend democracy, natural resources, our sovereignty and our dignity," he added.

Venezuela's government and the opposition held preparatory talks on April 7, which were followed by an unprecedented televised meeting between Maduro and opposition leaders, including the runner-up in last year's elections, Henrique Capriles.

Maduro, who succeeded late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, insists the meetings should not be negotiations. He has called for pacification and economic development programs.

The more radical wing of the opposition, which is seeking Maduro's ouster through the street protests, has refused to join the talks.

In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia's dynamic lowland business center, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined Morales to open the G77 summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the group's founding.

It has grown from 77 developing countries in 1964 to 133 member states, encompassing two-thirds of the world's countries.

© AFP 2017

   
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TheAmericas
Cuban President Raul Castro warned allies Saturday that Havana's closest ally Venezuela needed support amid fallout from deadly anti-government protests. "Venezuela today needs our staunchest support," Castro said in a rare international speech at a Group 77+China meeting in Bolivia.
Cuba, Venezuela, Castro, Maduro
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2014-09-15
Sunday, 15 Jun 2014 10:09 AM
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