Mérida, 31st January 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has told the United States to “swallow” its criticism of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ (CELAC) summit, after the U.S. accused the CELAC of “betraying democracy” by supporting Cuba.
At the closure of the CELAC summit held this week in Havana, Cuba, the regional grouping reiterated its condemnation of the United States’ fifty-three year old economic blockade against the Caribbean nation. The statement represented strong regional backing for Cuba, urging the U.S. to respect the will of the international community and lift the blockade.
The CELAC brings together all 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, but excludes the U.S. and Canada.
In response to the CELAC summit declaration, a U.S. State Department spokesperson accused the region’s nations of “betraying” democracy by giving diplomatic support to Cuba.
“We are disappointed that the CELAC, in its final declaration, betrayed the region’s outspoken commitment to democratic principles, as it endorsed the single party system in Cuba,” the spokesperson said.
Speaking on Cuban television yesterday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro publicly rejected the U.S. statement, saying, “[The U.S.] expresses bitterness. They are defeated…let them swallow their declaration! They will be bitter and disappointed for the rest of the 21st century”.
Maduro argued that Latin America would continue along a path of “peace” and that the U.S. reaction to the CELAC summit revealed its “imperial interests”.
“May they get used to respecting, and search for a new vision of our continent. With their dinosaur vision they’re not going to understand what’s happening and what’s going to happen in our economic, social and political life in the coming years,” he said.
Relations between Venezuela and the U.S. are currently frosty. Last September Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats from Caracas for alleged conspiracy with the opposition. Washington responded in kind, expelling three Venezuelan diplomats form U.S. territory.
The United States has itself received accusations of violating democratic principles in Latin America. An award-winning documentary by Australian filmmaker John Pilger found that “U.S. intervention, overt and covert, has toppled a series of legitimate governments in the Latin American region since the 1950s”.
During his visit to Cuba this week for the CELAC summit, Maduro met with Cuban president Raul Castro and signed 56 new bilateral agreements worth US $1,259 billion. The two countries aim to strengthen oil, energy and petrochemical cooperation.
As part of previous cooperation accords, over 35,000 Cuban professionals currently work in Venezuela’s medical and educational social programs.