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Anti-government marchers in Caracas slam Cuban ‘invader’

Caracas (AFP) – Hundreds of anti-government protesters marched against

Cuban meddling in ’s domestic affairs.

Under the late elected socialist revolutionary leader Hugo ,

Venezuela forged tight ties with Cuba, becoming its closest regional

ally and economic mainstay of the Americas’ only communist regime.

The close bilateral alliance, which includes military and security

cooperation, is still pursued under President Nicolas Maduro’s year-old

government.

At least 28 people have been killed and 400 injured in the student-led

protests that began February 4 in western Venezuela and spread to

Caracas and other cities.

Oil-rich Venezuela has seen almost daily anti-government demos as tens

of thousands of people vent their rage over the soaring violent crime

rate, spiraling inflation and a lack of basic household goods like

toilet paper.

Clad mostly in white T-shirts, marchers waved signs such as “Cuba get

out of the Armed Forces,” “Get out Cuban spies” and “If we keep this up,

we will be the Castrocuban Republic of Venezuela.”

Marchers were called out to the streets by the Popular Will, an

opposition organization led by Leopoldo Lopez. He has been jailed since

February 18.

The chanting throngs, sounding noisy horns, tried to march on the Cuban

Embassy to rally.

But authorities blocked them from getting to their target, and

demonstrators headed to La Carlota military airfield instead.

The bilateral alliance also includes energy, , defense and care.

Manuel Rangel, 24, waved a banner with a portrait of Cuban revolution

icon : warning “Get out Invader!”

“We completely reject Cuban involvement in our affairs, of the Castro

brothers in our Armed Forces and in our institutions,” the

student said.

Some analysts say there are Cuban advisers and Cubans taking part in

Venezuela’s security. Caracas does not comment on the claims.

Cash-strapped Cuba depends almost entirely on Venezuela’s largesse

billed as solidarity aid to keep afloat its ailing, Soviet-style

centrally managed .

Cuba’s top hard-currency earning export is the $6 billion Havana earns

each year from sending its medical staff overseas on government contracts.

On the defensive, Maduro said: “I repudiate the entire nazi-fascist

campaign that these right-wing cave-dwellers are waging against the

Cuban people,” promising to bring ties even closer to Havana.

– Venezuela, Cuba’s neighborhood ATM –

Unless Cuba can pinpoint and exploit the oil reserves it believes it

has, and fast, Havana must depend on its Venezuelan economic lifeline to

survive.

Maria Godoy, a 50-year-old homemaker, said “Cuban military presence in

Venezuela also is to blame for the (deadly) repression at

demonstrations” here.

But people are mainly on the streets, Godoy said, because of the

economic crisis in a country that has increasingly centralized its own

economy.

“We’ve been fighting on the streets for a month. So how has the

government improved anything?” she asked. “It hasn’t. Everything is

worse. There is nothing on supermarket shelves.”

Workers from the subsidized foods program held a pro-government protest.

“We will defend Chavez’s legacy. It is sacred. The fascist right-wing

will not plunge the country into chaos,” one told state television.

– Debate about a debate –

Meanwhile, opposition figure Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro in

last year’s elections, said he was discussing with the government some

format to hold a debate about the current crisis.

Government-controlled media do not feature such debate.

Maduro, often criticized as being rather low on charisma, then shot back

on state media that Capriles “has no character, and is two-faced. If

someone wants to come for talks, they should do so with respect for the

president. If they don’t want to, then to hell with them, damn it.”

Capriles responded to Maduro, who has called for dialogue on the crisis,

on Twitter.

“You are pitiful… You quiver at the very idea of a debate. You have

painted yourself into a corner,” Capriles said.

Source: Anti-government marchers in Caracas slam Cuban ‘invader’ – Yahoo

News –

http://news.yahoo.com/anti-government-marchers-caracas-slam-cuban-invader-234414709.html;_ylt=AwrBEiRVrSZTuRIA5sXQtDMD

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