Venezuelans mobilise for Cuban 5, to Welcome President’s Return

News from Cuba | Sunday, 13 September 2009

Venezuelans mobilised yet again this weekend, this time to welcome back President Chavez from his diplomatic tour, and on Saturday, to demand the release of the five Cuban political prisoners in the US. Venezuela also expressed its condolences for the death of the Cuban revolutionary leader Juan Almeida.

President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela on Friday after eleven days of an overseas tour to strengthen political and economic links and agreements with countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Chavez said he met with the leaders of each country as "equals," and said, "Now there aren't subordinates and superiors" in Latin America's relationships with the rest of the world.

Thousands of Venezuelans from across the country mobilised in Caracas outside the presidential palace Miraflores to welcome their president back, from lunch time until late at night when Chavez addressed the crowd.

One woman in the crowd told Venezuelan TV, "We've been waiting here for about an hour and a half, waiting for our president, who we are proud of. Chavez means a lot to the Venezuelan people... this tour has made us very proud, we haven't seen him rest at all...Chavez is an example for us of perseverance, of a lot."

On Saturday there were also mobilisations, marches, and cultural events around the country in solidarity with, and to demand the release of the five Cubans who have been political prisoners in the U.S for eleven years.

Maria Leon, minister for women and gender equality, told the huge crowd in Caracas, "The Latin American peoples have always been united in the fight for freedom, therefore we are all here united in ... a march, to say to the empire that [the Cuban five] are our sons and that we are going to save them."

The Venezuelan government also formally expressed its condolences to the Cuban government and people for the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Juan Almeida who died on Friday.

The statement said, "[Almeida] was a poem in and of himself, like those that he expressed in his writings and songs, that today are lessons in humanity for us and a re-affirmation that Love is the principal motor of our battle."

"To Fidel, to Raul, and to all the Cuban people, at this time we reinforce our embrace of solidarity and we join in the mourning of Comandante Juan Almeida's family and close friends. He will live forever in our struggles and our victories," the statement concluded.

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