Venezuela Denounces Lima Group’s Continued Interference

Venezuela

The letter stated that Venezuela’s exclusion from the summit signifies how the U.S. has consistently tried to maintain “hegemony” over the South American country.

April 18 (teleSUR) Venezuelan officials delivered a letter of complaint to the Caracas-based United States diplomatic mission Tuesday condemning “interference maintained by Washington” in the internal affairs of the South American country.

The letter delivered by Samuel Moncada, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America and Representative of the Bolivarian Republic to the United Nations, also targeted the diplomatic delegations of Canada, Guyana and the member countries of the Lima group.

The Lima group is a coalition of right-wing governments constituted in August 2017 with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Peru and others.

In the document, the Venezuelan government expressed its “strongest rejection” of agreements that “not only constitute a hostile and unfriendly act against an independent and sovereign country but also flagrantly violate the precepts of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law.”

The document denounced the “concrete reference to the Declaration issued by the self-styled Lima Group (…) in relation to the situation in Venezuela” during the summit.

“Venezuela on Tuesday delivered a new protest note to the US diplomatic mission accredited in Caracas, in rejection of the interference that Washington maintains in the internal affairs of the South American country,” the Foreign Ministry noted on its website.

Peruvian economist, Oscar Ugarteche, also called out the “hollow declarations” made at the recent Summit of the Americas which took place in Lima, where, he noted, half of the countries attending were more concerned about planning an agenda against Venezuela than talk about tackling severe corruption problems plaguing the continent.

In the article, “The Distracted Summit,” referring to the VIII Summit of the Americas  which took place on April 13 and 14, attended by all the right-wing Latin American leaders, Ugarteche, of the Institute of Economic Research of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), shed light on the summit’s destructive and divisive role in the region.

“In sum, the summit in Lima shows that half the hemisphere will recognize the Venezuelan elections and no half and that there is a problem of corruption that must be addressed,”  the UNAM researcher concluded.

“Although large capitals are accomplices and promoters of corruption around the world, in Latin America it has also been a source of increased production, low productivity, a flight of public and private resources, increased uncertainties, curbing investment, and therefore economic stagnation,” Ugarteche, noted.

Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, described the VIII Summit of the Americas as a “complete failure” during a speech he delivered in Caracas Saturday.

“I was seeing reports of some empty speeches by right-wing, unpopular, murderous, imperialist lackey presidents,” Maduro said during his Saturday speech. “It’s shameful seeing those presidents, hated by their peoples, speak about Venezuela’s noble people.”

Further adding that the US president, Donald Trump canceled his visit to the summit so that he could ” to oversee a possible military action in Syria,” although “it is speculated that the real cause of his change of plan and the absence of support measures against Venezuela.”

Venezuela’s letter also bashed the Organization of American States (OAS) for choosing Peru as the host country for the eighth summit on “Democratic Governance in the Face of Corruption,” a country which “just lost its president in the midst of a corruption scandal (Pedro Pablo Kuczynski).” And the country that “pardoned another former president who was imprisoned for corruption and genocide (Alberto Fujimori), not counting the cases of a former president who is in prison (Ollanta Humala) and another who had his repatriation requested by the Justice ( Alejandro Toledo).”

The letter also shed light on the role the left-wing governments played in dismantling U.S..led trade deal, Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, as the “first project was defeated at the Mar del Plata meeting in 2005, thanks to the alliance of Hugo Chavez, Lula da Silva and host Néstor Kirchner against US President George W. Bush, and today it is farther than ever to come true.”

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Cuban Universities Attend ACM-ICPC in China

Beijing, Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) Three Cuban universities are participating today in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), based in China, with 140 teams from all over the world, diplomatic sources reported.

The island’s representation has 12 members, four for each of the teams: sUrPRise (University of Pinar del Rio), KFP (‘Marta Abreu’ Central University of Las Villas) and Netscape (University of Oriente, Antonio Maceo venue).

The ACM-ICPC is an education program on computer sciences and engineering with more than 20 years of experiences.

Cuba has previously classified teams from five higher education centers to the last stage of the contest. The University of Havana team won the contest for Latin America in 2017, a position previously occupied by Dominican Republic.

The Peking University currently hosts the annual world finals, opened yesterday, and considered the major programming event because it brings together academic institutions from all continents. The competition will be run until Friday, April 20.

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Where the International Front Against Venezuela Is Heading

Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela April 14, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Hours before President Trump publicly announced the large-scale attack on Syria, using as an excuse an unverified chemical attack reported to international public opinion by terrorist-linked sources, four Venezuelan opposition leaders, including Antonio Ledezma, David Smolansky, Julio Borges y Carlos Vecchio, met with US Vice President Mike Pence.

By: Mision Verdad

April 18 (teleSUR) The 8th America’s Summit was controversial thanks to the many corruption cases involving Latin America’s political classes. Its international impact was lessened by the absence of Donald Trump and another ten or so heads of State. But it still served as a platform to try and shape a series of aggressive measures in the short term against Venezuela with the aim of disrupting the Presidential elections of May 20th.

From Syria to Venezuela via Mike Pence and Antonio Ledezma

Hours before President Trump publicly announced the large-scale attack on Syria, using as an excuse an unverified chemical attack reported to international public opinion by terrorist-linked sources, four Venezuelan opposition leaders, including Antonio Ledezma, David Smolansky, Julio Borges y Carlos Vecchio, met with US Vice President Mike Pence.

The immediate message of that meeting, just when across the Atlantic the US was preparing its military aggression against Syria, is disturbing because it shows that the Venezuelan opposition openly supports a world power bombing a sovereign country on false evidence and in violation of international law.

This is a sinister precedent since, in Venezuela’s case, not only would these opposition politicians give the same support to a US military attack against their own country but they also argue for it constantly.

During the meeting, Pence promised to ensure US$16 million in “humanitarian aid” for “Venezuelan refugees” in Colombia and Brazil, deliberately omitting that this international legal category does not apply to migrants from Venezuela.

After the meeting, Mike Pence remarked, “We call for more sanctions, more isolation and more diplomatic pressure but also for the rest of the world to recognize that Venezuela is a dictatorship”.

The EFE news agency reported the opposition spokesperson asking that the Presidential elections result of May 20th should not be recognized, for a “humanitarian aid” plan and for tougher financial sanctions.

However, it was Antonio Ledezma, on the run from Venezuela’s justice system, who took this opportunity to extremes so as to set himself apart from the others in the meeting. He demanded from Pence a military intervention in Venezuela, perhaps trying to exploit for his own personal agenda Trump administration’s aggression on every geopolitical front.

Marco Rubio’s maneuvers

The Venezuelan opposition also met with Marco Rubio, someone who has gained an increasingly authoritative voice on US foreign policy towards Venezuela via his position in the Senate.

Intimately linked to the arms and Israeli lobbies in the US Congress, Rubio has had enormous influence promoting sanctions against Venezuela.

While opposition leader Julio Borges was absent from the meeting with Marco Rubio, various opposition legislators travelled for it to the America’s Summit. The absence of Borges suggests the differences he has with Rubio, who supports the far right coalition I Am Venezuela, and his unwillingness to be Rubio’s subordinate.

On the issue of funding under the guise of “humanitarian aid”, the meeting with Rubio, according to the Diario de las Américas, was an extension of the earlier meeting with Mike Pence.

Also on that meeting’s agenda was the issue of US diplomatic support to Venezuela’s National Assembly as a tool of political destabilization, something that coincides with the move by the self-styled “Supreme Court in exile” to open a political trial in violation of Venezuela’s Constitution against President Nicolas Maduro to try and force his removal. But ratification of this sham trial lacks acceptance of the National Assembly, which clarifies Rubio’s role in the move given his support for that currently disqualified institution.

Despite the meeting being hailed as a success, Marco Rubio said no consensus exists as regards Washington’s policy of isolation and asphyxia towards Venezuela. He said, without specifics, that a meeting of the OAS would be convened in May to try and use the authority of the United States in the region to obtain a widespread rejection of the results of the May 20th presidential elections.

For its part, the Lima Group issued a statement demanding “electoral guarantees” from Venezuela’s government for the May 20th Presidential elections, as well as backing the OAS actions to promote a boycott of the elections and foment political and institutional confrontation in Venezuela.

Although Brazil’s foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes met with Venezuelan opposition leaders and signed the Lima Group statement, he confirmed Brazil would not apply sanctions against Venezuela. His dissonant comment complicates the unity of agreement the Lima Group seeks to project.

However, the omissions in the Lima Group’s statement speak for themselves. The sanctions do not appear as a measure to be taken immediately, but neither is there any coercive diplomatic measure, such as the breaking off of relations following the Presidential vote, regardless of its result.

Probably, the Lima Group is trying to moderate the Trump administration’s aggressive tone so as to show at least some degree of independence, knowing full well no regional consensus exists on strangling Venezuela.

One key point, since March this year, Julio Borges has been saying the Lima Group will sanction Venezuela following the Presidential elections, something far from clear in the ad hoc Lima Group’s recent statement.

Another sign of the lack of regional consensus on the US siege agenda against Venezuela has been the number of OAS Permanent Council meetings called over the last two years which have failed to galvanize majority support.

The international front against Venezuela moves in different directions, each piece on the board tries to impose its own agenda while the clock ticks rapidly on towards the Presidential elections.

In that sense, the meetings of Venezuelan opposition leaders at the Americas Summit with high ranking US officials and ambassadors from other countries have not revealed anything new as regards the demands for more pressure on the Venezuelan government.

The governments with most economic and political weight in the region understand that blindly following the made-in-the-USA strategy of total isolation against Venezuela could be counterproductive for their respective countries’ economic interests. Furthermore, it would mean projecting an unhelpful position of stubborn intransigence towards Venezuela when that country is central to the regional political, diplomatic and strategic stance of China, Latin America’s emerging partner with whom no country wants to have bad relations.

Chinese and Russian financial, energy and geopolitical interests in Venezuela are an important deterrent that sets down red lines for outside pressure against Venezuela.

On the other hand, not following the US agenda against Venezuela means being exposed to a series of political and financial retaliatory measures which are likewise undesirable. For that reason, it is likely that the Lima Group means to keep up appearances while also keeping a certain distance from US efforts at boycotting Venezuela with regional support.

This contradiction is precisely what US policy exponents, like Marco Rubio, and in his own way, Mike Pence, want to exploit, along with their vassal subjects on the ground like Antonio Ledezma, the I Am Venezuela coalition, the extinct Popular Will party, factions of the Justice First party and the other residual anti-Chavista remnants.

By fabricating a zero-sum conflict, simulating an epic all or nothing challenge, these US leaders seek to force the region to dance in rhythm with the US government after the May 20th elections. And it is there where realpolitik will finally tell, since it looks as though a mere statement rejecting the Presidential elections will be insufficient without some practical consequence as well.

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Young Cuban deputy: Youth will never let the Revolution down

 Cuban young deputy: Youth will never let the Revolution down

April 18 (Radio Rebelde) Ania Yelina Fernandez Lara, the youngest Granma deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP), said in this city that the new generations of Cubans will never let the Revolution down.

Before leaving for the country’s capital, where the inaugural session of the 9th Legislature of the ANPP will take place today, she told the Cuban News Agency that young people will always be faithful to the ideas and example of Fidel Castro and other greats of national history.

This charismatic girl, 23 years old and president of the University Student Federation (FEU) at the University of Granma, stressed that young people are committed to always preparing themselves to the fullest, to being tireless and to promoting many successes with fidelity to the essence of the nation.

She added that being a deputy is a source of great pride, but also a great responsibility, with which she will always try to be consistent with.

I am aware of the importance of representing the members of the FEU and the other young people, the people of Granma and the whole country well,” he added, who defines himself as very humble and sentimental.

She stressed that a deputy or delegate must think above all of others, of neighbors, of co-workers, of the neighborhood and of society, of contributing to the well-being of the people, in order to promote collective success.

She said that Cuba will have a new president, but its greatest strength will always lie in unity, resistance, courage and intelligence to overcome obstacles and achieve victories, so it is essential to continue to conquer triumphs among all, with full knowledge of history.

Fernandez Lara, deputy from the Sierra Maestra mountain range, highlighted the democracy of the electoral system in the nation, with proposals from the neighborhoods and the mass and student organizations.

The average age of the new ANPP will be 49, with and 80 deputies between 18 and 35 years of age.

Of the 605 deputies, 53.22 are women, a figure that demonstrates the full rights of women in the country.

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The virtue of believing in the youth

The Army General accompanies youth as they face the challenges of today. Photo: Estudio Revolución

April 18 (Cubadebate) “Every time Raúl meets with youth his eyes shine; he’s re-energized,” says the late Jorge Risquet Valdés turning and speaking to me in a low voice. The revolutionary combatant was referring to the Army General, at that time Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), during a visit to one of the units of the Eastern Army, where he met and spoke with young combatants, including officers, in whom he recognized the will to continue defending the homeland.

Risquet was a close comrade of Raúl’s during the period of armed struggle. I recalled his comment some time later, during one of the few occasions when I covered visits by the Revolution’s second-in-command to the contingent he created in 1961, as a reporter for the military press. On each occasion, while speaking with youth, he expressed his complete confidence in them.

His trust in younger generations is without a doubt one of the greatest qualities Raúl Castro has shown throughout his life as a revolutionary, marked by coherent thought and action.

José Ramón Fernández, another close friend of the Army General wrote, “His knowledge of life, of human beings, his revolutionary convictions and infinite trust in youth make compañero Raúl a strong believer in the importance of educating new generations, as well as a forceful critic of forms and methods which do not correspond to each historic moment, every new stage of the Revolution’s development, every reality, with life itself.”

He recognizes, added Fernández, that youth of today are more demanding, more capable, better educated, more cultured and above all, more critical. “He has also pointed out that it is a mistake to attempt to reach youth through schematic formulas, with trivial resources and insubstantial arguments. According to Raul, in order to reach the minds and hearts of youth, strengthen them ideologically and politically, spark their interest and support their goals, we must expand and intensify our political-ideological work to be unequivocally more rigorous and, above all, more modern.”

In this regard he went on to note: “For Raul, youth must be the protagonists in their own education, they must be active participants in their own learning processes, in the transformative work, in setting new goals for the Revolution, taking it to new levels of development, as inheritors of the experiences of those that came before them, but with their own light, initiative, creativity, and deep sense of commitment to being continuators of this work, no matter what the challenges.”

To some, the opinions of Risquet and José Ramón may seem particularly affected by the undeniable affection that has come from working day-by-day alongside Raúl. However, a strong revolutionary sentiment is evident whenever the Army General talks about the importance of youth’s role in maintaining the political and social gains that Cuba enjoys today.

For me, one of these rousing moments occurred in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 2013, during celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons.

Clearly enthused, Raúl transmitted his passion to those present:

“Many years have passed but this continues to be a revolution of the young, just as we were that July 26, 1953, as well as those who fought and died in the streets of Santiago de Cuba on November 30, 1956. The majority of those who fought for five years – from 1960 until approximately January 1965 – against bandits, were also young people; with active groups of different sizes in all of the country’s provinces, including southern Havana on two occasions during this period; so too were those who defeated the mercenaries at Playa Girón; it was young people, including adolescents, that joined the literacy campaign – most of whom were students; masses of youth joined the militias, the newly formed Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior; it was hundreds of thousands of young compatriots who served on international missions in other countries around the world…”

He recalled that the majority of those who offered health and education services in other countries; the scientists, artists, and athletes who have achieved countless honors; the young men performing military service and the young women who opted to do the same; high school and university students, workers and campesinos whose work provides important dividends for the national economy; our teachers and professors, were all young people.

Raúl went on to speak of the various generations that live on the island, each one with its own history and merits. He noted that: “With tranquility and calm confidence, the historic generation is giving way to the “pinos nuevos” (new generations) given their preparation and proven ability to uphold the banners of the Revolution and Socialism, for which countless patriots and revolutionaries gave their lives; from the indigenous peoples and slaves who continued to rebel against oppression through today.”

On April 4, 2010, during the closing ceremony of the Ninth Congress of the Young Communist League, Raúl noted that the economic battle must be the main task and focus of cadres’ ideological work, in order to ensure the sustainability and preservation of our social system, stating: “Cuban youth are destined to take over from the generation that founded the Revolution, and in order to lead the masses with great strength, a convincing and mobilizing vanguard is required, for mobilization through personal example; a vanguard headed by firm, capable and prestigious directors, true leaders, not improvised ones; leaders who have passed through the irreplaceable forge of the working class where the most genuine values of a revolutionary are cultivated. Life has eloquently shown us the dangers that come with the violation of that principle.”

He also offered various words of advice to the new generations, explaining that “Today more than ever, we need cadres capable of carrying out effective ideological work that cannot be a dialogue of the deaf nor a mechanical repetition of slogans. We need leaders who reason with sound arguments, without considering themselves the absolute owners of the truth; who know how to listen even if they don’t like what some people say; who are capable of examining other peoples’ views with an open mind, which does not exclude the need to energetically refute with sound arguments those views considered unacceptable.”
The Army General went on to highlight the need to foster open discussions and to not consider disagreements as a problem, but the source of the best solutions: “Absolute unanimity is fictitious and therefore, harmful. When contradictions are not antagonistic, as in our case, they can become the driving force of development. We should deliberately suppress anything that feeds pretense and opportunism. We should learn to work collegially, to encourage unity and to strengthen collective leadership; these features should characterize the future leaders of the Revolution.”

In this sense, and with the experience gained protesting against corrupt regimes and later during the armed struggle, as well as confronting natural disasters, military threats with cataclysmal outcomes and severe ideological confrontations, he described the course of action that must always be taken: “There are youth all over the island with the necessary disposition and capacity to take on leadership positions. The challenge is to find them, to train them and to gradually assign them greater responsibilities.”

On that day he also quoted Fidel: “Believing in youth is seeing in them not only enthusiasm but capacity; not only energy but responsibility; not only youth, but purity, heroism, character, willpower, love for their homeland, faith in their homeland! Love for the Revolution, faith in the Revolution, and confidence in themselves! It is the deep conviction that youth are competent, that youth are capable; the deep conviction that great tasks can be placed on their shoulders.”

These were the words spoken for the first time on April 4, 1962, by the undefeated leader of the Cuban Revolution, during the founding ceremony of the Young Communist League; and then again 48 years later by Raúl with the strength and passion of those that struggled shoulder to shoulder for full justice and foresaw victory in the battles that lie ahead.

As he prepares, of his own free will, to step down as President of the Councils of State and Ministers, it is clear that this is the position Raúl has maintained throughout his life as a revolutionary. For him “Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and calm confidence we feel handing over the responsibility of continuing to build socialism to new generations.”

(Granma)

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Cuba Shows Active Presence at UN Economic and Social Council

United Nations, Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) Cuba is among the most active countries in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its presence is confirmed today in five commissions of this body.

The Cuban representation at UN was elected as a member of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (for 2019-2021), the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (2019-2022), the Commission on Legal and Social Status of Women (2019-2023) and the UN-Women Executive Board (2019-2021).

Cuba was also elected yesterday as a member of the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (for 2019-2022), an election in which the island reached the larger number of votes (44) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During its membership, Cuba will encourage that Committee to guarantee the participation of non-governmental organizations from all regions and, particularly, developing countries, according to a report from the Cuban mission at UN.

Cuba will also focus on achieving a fair, balance, effective and genuine participation of non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world, the note says.

Cuba will continue the serious review of all consultative statue requests to ensure that the objectives and purposes of the agencies are consistent with the spirit, purposes and principles of United Nations Charter, the document concluded.

The Caribbean island has made up the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations for more than 20 years. For the current period, Mexico was elected with 43 votes, Nicaragua with 42 and Brazil with 38.

The body responsible for the Non-Governmental Organizations was established by an ECOSOC resolution, on June 21, 1946.

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Experts From Several Countries in Orthopedic Event in Cuba

Ciego de Avila, Cuba Apr 18 (Prensa Latina) Experts from Switzerland, Austria, France, Canada, Puerto Rico and Cuba attend the 16th International Arthroscopy Symposium, which will be held in this city until April19.

Conferences, workshops, teaching clinical sections and demonstrative surgeries are on the agenda of the meeting, which takes place at the Antonio Luaces Iraola hospital in the central province of Ciego de Avila.

The coordinator of the event, Doctor Osvaldo García, told Prensa Latina, that the exchanges are focused this year on regenerative medicine, one of the most innovative contributions in the world incorporated into arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgery, and to promote the study of the imaging

Arthroscopy is a novel technique almost exclusively of developed nations, which allows you to directly visualize the joints, establish safe diagnoses and perform surgeries.

Also known as minimally invasive surgery has among its advantages the rapid recovery of patients and their reintegration into social life; decreased in-hospital stay and post-operation morbidity.

Ciego de Ávila, at about 430 kilometers far from Havana, is the usual venue for Arthroscopy workshops, which seek to improve the technique of arthroscopic surgery to improve peoples’ quality of life.

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Venezuela Condemns US, French, & British Attack Against Syria

This is the remains of Damascus’ Scientific Research Centre following US-led attacks

This is the remains of Damascus’ Scientific Research Centre following US-led attacks. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry has issued a public statement expressing “absolute” solidarity with the people of Syria.

By Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 

The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela energetically rejects and condemns the unilateral military attack carried out by the United States, France, and the UK against the territory and people of the Arab Republic of Syria.

Once again the United States and some of its allies have violated the most elementary principals and norms of international law by starting a unilateral action without discussion and approval by the corresponding bodies of the United Nations. With the unilateral and illegal use of violence, those countries are openly violating the sovereignty, the right to life, and all the human rights of our sister people in Syria.

The Arab Republic of Syria has been attacked despite the fact that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has still not sent its teams of experts to the region to investigate the supposed use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army. This hasty military operation of the United States reminds us of the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was justified by the pretext of a necessary neutralisation of weapons of mass destruction which, following months of death and chaos, all parties admitted had never been found.

The president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in the name of the Venezuelan people and government, expresses his absolute solidarity with the Syrian people and government over the loss of life, the injuries, and material damages which have been the consequences of this merciless and unjustified attack.

Caracas, 14 April 2018

Translated by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.com. 

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Cuba Will Have a New President Thursday

Havana, Apr 19 (Prensa Latina) The National Candidacy Commission (NCC) of the Cuban Assembly is announcing Thursday the results of the parliamentary election Wednesday in which the 605 members of the legislative house voted to whether ratify Miguel Diaz Canel as the nation’s president.

By direct and secret balloting the lawmakers also decided on whether Salvador Valdes Mesa will be Cuba’s First Vice President for the next five years.

The NCC nominated Diaz-Canel, incumbent first vice president of the Council of State, after the 57-year-old’s name was proposed by the 605 Parliament lawmakers to head the country.

‘Diaz-Canel has a rich political career aligned with the generation born after the triumph of 1959 and has been growing with the revolution since he became a student leader,’ Gisela Duarte, the NCC President, said while proposing his name.

When she finally announced Diaz-Canel’s name, he received a standing ovation and a hug from outgoing President Raul Castro.

Valdes Mesa, 72, a sitting vice president and member of the Politburo, was nominated as the new First Vice President.

The NCC also put to a vote revolution’s historical commander Ramiro Valdes and Gladys Bejerano, nominated for a second term, and three new faces including sitting Health Minister Roberto Morales. The other two proposed to vice presidential posts are Ines Maria Chapman y Beatriz Johnson.

The legislators also voted for another 24 political figures to complete the 31-member Council of State, the government’s highest body.

Among them stand out Defense Minister Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Young Communist League leader Susely Morfa, and Cuban Workers’ Federation leader Ulises Guilarte.

With the changes, the average age of the Cuban leadership will be 54 years as 77 percent of the proposed candidates were born after the triumph of the revolution in 1959. Also, women make up 48 percent of the Council of State.

Though Raul Castro was elected a lawmaker, he won’t be part of the Council of State but he will remain as the secretary general of the Cuban Communist Party.

The 9th Legislature of the Cuban Assembly was inaugurated Wednesday starting with the oath taking by the 605 legislators who had been elected March 11 last in an election day in which over 7.400.000 voters came to the polls for a 86 percent turnout.

Of the 605 legislators who represent diverse sectors of society, 338 have been elected for the first time and 148 have served for one term.

More than half of the MPs are women (53.2 percent), black and colored people make up 40.5 percent of the house, while 13.2 percent is under 35 years, 86 percent is university graduate, 77 percent was born after the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and as whole the average age of the membership is 49 years.

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VIII Americas Summit: Cuba & Bolivia Stand by Venezuela amid US Threats

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla speaking during the Summit

Merida, April 16, 2018, (venezuelanalysis.com) – Cuba and Bolivia defended Venezuela at the VIII Summit of the Americas in Peru this past weekend as the South American country came under attack from Washington and its conservative regional allies.

The gathering brought together representatives from 33 of the 35 governments of Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America. It is held every 3-4 years and is traditionally attended by heads of state.

Despite the summit’s official theme being anti-corruption, the controversy surrounding Venezuela largely overshadowed the proceedings even with the Caribbean country’s absence. In February, Maduro was barred from attending by host country Peru in spite of Caracas’ protests that the move violated the summit’s own consensus-approved regulations.

US Vice President Mike Pence, who stood in for President Trump at this year’s summit after the latter opted last minute to stay in Washington to “oversee” the US-led strikes on Syria, used the event to rally regional allies behind more sanctions and a position of non-recognition of Venezuela’s upcoming electoral process.

“The United States believes now is the time to do more, much more,” Pence said in relation to Venezuela. “Every free nation gathered here must take action to isolate the [Venezuelan President] Maduro regime”.

“Our message is for our allies to unite (…), and we also bring a call for more sanctions, more isolation, and more diplomatic pressure,” he continued.

Pence was seconded by the right-wing leaders of Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, among others, who similarly took shots at Venezuela, denouncing the Maduro government as a “dictatorship”.

In response, two of Venezuela’s closest allies in the region, Cuba and Bolivia, firmly rejected the US position, denouncing Washington’s interference in the region.

“Bolivia condemns the sanctions and threats of invasion from the US against Venezuela. Our region is no one’s back yard,” declared Bolivian President Evo Morales during his speech at the summit.

For his part, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also “rejected the insulting references to Cuba and Venezuela” made by Pence whilst claiming that efforts to not recognise the upcoming elections were “completely undemocratic”.

Ultimately, Havana, La Paz, and other Venezuela allies won something of a victory over the weekend when they succeeded in blocking any consensus on including anti-Caracas rhetoric in the final declaration.

Instead, fifteen conservative governments, including Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, Chile, Peru, and Colombia, followed the US in singing a separate declaration vowing to “support efforts and decisions of the countries of the region to contribute to restoring democracy in Venezuela.”

The joint statement reiterates Washington and its allies’ refusal to recognize the results of Venezuela’s upcoming May 20 elections which they consider “lacking in legitimacy and credibility” despite a host of electoral guarantees agreed to by a section of the opposition backing former Governor Henri Falcon’s candidacy.

Additionally, the document “calls on countries which have adopted measures to amplify them and strengthen them,” alluding to sanctions and other unilateral measures which have been imposed by the US, Canada, and most recently Panama.

Alongside pushing for more sanctions against Caracas, the declaration urges the international community to “support Venezuela’s economic recovery” but only “once the democratic and constitutional order has been restored”.

President Maduro was not present at the summit following a last-minute announcement he would  boycott the event in order to “stay at home with the Venezuelan people” despite previous promises to attend the gathering “come rain or shine, by air, land, or sea”. From Caracas, he proclaimed that the meeting in Peru had been a “complete failure” and “a total waste of time,” and was “not one our priorities, it never has been”.

“I was seeing reports of some empty speeches by right-wing, unpopular, murderous, imperialist lackey presidents,” Maduro declared during a rally against US bombing of Syria on Saturday.

Maduro had been banned from attending the summit by Peru’s ex-president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski before the Peruvian leader was forced to step down in March following allegations that he received bribes worth more than US$1 million from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

The move provoked a backlash from Caracas’ regional allies as well as talk of holding an alternative summit in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, but ultimately only Antigua and Barbuda ended up boycotting the gathering in solidarity with Venezuela.

Venezuela was not entirely without representation at the summit, however, as numerous opposition leaders made the trip to lobby for stepped-up international pressure on the Caribbean country, including further sanctions.

National Assembly deputies such as Julio Borges and Williams Davila, ex-mayors such as David Smolansky and Antonio Ledezma, who are both currently fleeing the Venezuelan justice system, as well as Popular Will party National Coordinator Carlos Vecchio traveled to Lima to participate in the gathering.

On the sidelines of the summit, they met with stalwarts of US policy in the region such as hardline Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Organisation of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro, USAID Administrator Mark Green, and even Pence himself.

View image on Twitter

“In a meeting with the US vice president, I called for humanitarian intervention and the expansion and intervention of sanctions for Maduro, members of his inner circle, frontmen, the confiscation of goods and assets stolen from Venezuela,” tweeted Ledezma, who was indicted in 2015 in connection to alleged efforts to violently overthrow the government and fled house arrest last November. 

Last August, the Trump administration imposed harsh financial sanctions on Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA, which at the time were publicly endorsed by the opposition. The move was followed by subsequent rounds of sanctions targeting top Caracas officials, with Canada and the European Union following suit.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

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