Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has become the first foreign leader to visit new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, signifying the importance of relations between Caracas and Havana.
Maduro flew to Havana on Saturday to personally congratulate Diaz-Canel. The two met at the Cuban Palace of the Revolution in Havana later on the same day to discuss relations and map out further cooperation.
“Cuba and Venezuela are in the best condition to unite forces,” said Maduro, shortly after arriving at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. “We have done it before, with giant results. Every time we took a step forward, the enemies of our motherlands said ‘you can’t,’ and we always showed that yes, we could.”
“We come to renew hope, to renew dreams and… above all, to visualize the 10 years ahead,” he added.
Havana and Caracas have maintained close political and economic relations since the late President Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1999.
The governments of Cuba and Venezuela view themselves as united against what they denounce as US imperialism.
The Cuban National Assembly on Thursday inaugurated Diaz-Canel, who has served as first vice president since 2013, marking a generational shift after almost six decades of rule under legendary revolutionary leader, the late Fidel Castro, and — more recently — his brother Raul.
The 57-year-old Diaz-Cane, who has spent years climbing the party ranks, was nominated last week as the candidate for the presidency and was formally appointed to a five-year term.
The 86-year-old Raul Castro, who came to power as president in 2008, when he replaced his ailing brother, will remain as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba until a congress slated to be held in 2021.
On Friday, Russia and China congratulated Cuba on the election of Diaz-Canel as its new president, wishing to continue to expand ties with Havana.