Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Cuba's Raúl Castro signed a series of bilateral accords in Caracas on Saturday in Mr. Castro's first foreign trip since he succeeded his ailing brother Fidel.
Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Cuba's Raúl Castro – two presidents who need each other but for different reasons – signed a series of bilateral accords here Saturday in a visit heavy with symbolism because it marked the first trip abroad by Mr. Castro since he succeeded his ailing brother Fidel.
"We give a fervent welcome to you as one of the forces behind the [Cuban] Revolution," Mr. Chávez said, as he greeted Raúl Castro with a hug at the international airport outside Caracas. "It's a great honor for us to receive you."
"I bring a salute, a hug for all Venezuelans from the Cuban people and from the leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro," Raúl Castro replied.
Speaking to reporters a few minutes later, Castro remarked that he had last visited Venezuela 55 years ago, when he was a student conspiring with his older brother to overthrow Cuba's dictatorship.
Raúl Castro said he offered his respects then to Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan who played a decisive role in freeing South America from colonial Spain nearly 200 years ago. Chávez constantly cites Bolivar as a role model.
So it was not surprising that the two presidents laid a wreath at a statue of Bolivar in downtown Caracas in the morning and at Bolivar's tomb in the afternoon.
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