Morales gets warm welcome in Cuba
- Morales gets warm welcome in Cuba
HAVANA, Dec 30: Bolivias Socialist president-elect, Evo Morales, was welcomed in Havana on Friday with full honours and greeted at the airport by a bouyant Cuban President Fidel Castro.
A military band played and an honour guard stood at attention as Morales arrived at Jose Marti airport at 10:10 am local time (1410 GMT) for his first visit abroad since winning Bolivias Dec 18 presidential election.
Castro had sent his private plane to bring Morales to Havana. After the president-elect stepped off the plane onto a red carpet, the two leaders embraced.
Morales, who has never hidden his admiration for Cubas revolution, said he felt joy, great emotion to be here.
Morales choice of Cuba as his first visit abroad as president-elect underlines the political loyalties of the Leftist leader, who pledged to join Castros anti-imperialist struggle in a message to the Cuban people the day after his election.
Alluding to a more Leftist trend in Latin America, Castro said: It appears the map is changing, and we need to be reflective, to observe well and to be informed.
Despite US efforts to isolate Cuba, Castro enjoys close ties to Venezuelas Leftist president Hugo Chavez and Left-of-center governments have to come power elsewhere in the region.
Morales, an activist for coca farmers, has vowed to nationalize the natural gas industry and tackle poverty in one of the poorest countries in the Americas. He is a sharp critic of US free trade and drug policies in the region.
In addition to Castro, Morales was greeted by Vice President Carlos Lage Davila, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and other dignitaries.
The visit, only two days before the 47th anniversary of Cubas revolution, represents an important stimulus to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation between Cuba and the new leadership in Bolivia, Castros government said in a statement.
Morales is due to fly back to Bolivia on Saturday, also in Castros jet, to spend the new year in Oruro in the southern Andes, his birth place.AFP
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