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VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro was joined by his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel yesterday as they issued a rallying cry for regional unity “to confront the onslaught of US imperialism.”
The pair were among the speakers at the closing ceremony of the 25th Sao Paolo Forum in Caracas, which coincided with celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the birth of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
Sao Paulo Forum secretary Monica Valente said the best way to honour Mr Chavez was “to continue his struggle for the sovereignty and inclusion of the peoples, to combat poverty and imperial forces.”
Mr Chavez’s successor Mr Maduro stressed the importance of unity of Latin American and Caribbean left forces “from the moral, spiritual and political point of view.
“We have to achieve the union of all progressive parties with a great project that manages to unify the popular forces,” he told attendees from more than 70 countries.
The Venezuelan president said that the country faces constant “imperialist calls for despair and division,” including an attempted coup by the US and their “puppet” Juan Guaido.
He explained that Bolivarianism is “Venezuela’s autochthonous response to the crisis of the model of pro-imperialist domination that was imposed on the country.”
The meeting took place amid a backdrop of escalating regional tensions. US President Donald Trump’s administration has adopted an increasingly hostile stance towards regional left-wing governments, imposing punitive sanctions and threatening military intervention.
Cuba has been subjected to a cruel economic blockade by the US that the United Nations estimates has cost the country’s economy $130 billion (£106bn) over nearly six decades.
Mr Diaz-Canel told the international delegates: “The US imperialist counteroffensive and the oligarchy, alongside the hawks that have literally hijacked US foreign policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean, are dangerously threatening the geographical space that Celac [Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] declared a peace zone.”
He highlighted the anti-democratic measures by Washington in order to undermine regional governments. This, he said, included the “criminalisation” of progressive governments and their leaders — in April US National Security Adviser John Bolton branded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the “troika of tyranny.”
The Sao Paolo Forum was established in 1990 by then Brazilian president Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva and leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro.
Starting with just 60 participants, the forum now includes more than 120 organisations from 25 countries in “permanent debate for peace and the unity of our peoples.”
Organised under the slogan “Another world is possible,” it functions as a counterbalance to US imperialism.
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