[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 02:29 GMT 03:29 UK
Venezuela ends upbeat Cuba visit
By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Havana

Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro
The two leaders both displease the US
The Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, has ended a visit to Cuba expressing confidence that relations between the two countries are closer than ever.

President Chavez said Cuba and Venezuela's cooperation were examples of what socialism can and should do.

US administration officials are concerned that both President Chavez and Fidel Castro are intent on undermining democracies in the region.

The two leaders emphatically reject the US charges.

Fidel Castro accompanied Hugo Chavez to Havana airport for a send-off which ended what Cuban media has been portraying as "a triumphant visit".

"The best ever," said President Chavez as he left.
It's a revolutionary democracy
President Chavez on Cuba

The Venezuelan leader took the opportunity to brush aside recent comments from the US evangelist Pat Robertson, that he was a threat to the United States and should be assassinated.

Over the last three days, both Presidents Castro and Chavez have been showcasing their joint social projects and dismissing US charges that they are up to no good.

The statistics of their alliance are impressive.

Cuba currently sends a fifth of all its doctors to Venezuela.

This year alone 50,000 Venezuelans have come to Cuba to receive free eye treatment.

In return, oil-rich Venezuela sends Cuba 90,000 barrels of crude a day at highly preferential terms.

Joking friends

The deal has been forged by two leaders who do genuinely appear to be friends.

During a joint appearance on a six hour TV phone-in programme on Sunday, both presidents, dressed almost identically in military fatigues, joked together as they discussed their cooperation.

During the programme, Hugo Chavez made a point of saying that he didn't see Cuba's form of government as a dictatorship.

"It's a revolutionary democracy," he said.

President Chavez's next stop on his Caribbean tour is Jamaica.

There he is expected to sign a deal whereby Venezuela supplies oil to countries across the region under generous financial terms.

It is a deal which should go some way to shield Caribbean nations from rising oil prices.


SEE ALSO:
Chavez seeks stronger Cuban ties
28 Apr 05 |  Americas
Chavez seeks Iran economic ties
10 Mar 05 |  Americas
Chavez in India for energy talks
04 Mar 05 |  Business
Lula and Chavez sign trade deals
14 Feb 05 |  Americas
China and Cuba sign trade deals
23 Nov 04 |  Americas


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific