Fidel: Hugo Chávez's name is admired and respected the world over
Dear Nicolás Maduro:
On the occasion of the anniversaries you are celebrating today, I would like to share the following with you:
The absence of the president elected by over 8 million Venezuelans moves us all.
I met Hugo Chávez exactly 18 years ago. Someone invited him to come to Cuba and he accepted. He has told me that he planned to ask for an interview with me. I had no idea that those military men, branded by the news agencies as subversives, who had so discretely and over several years planted their ideas, was an elite group of Bolivarian revolutionaries. I met Chávez at the airport, took him to where he would be staying, and talked to him for hours, exchanging ideas.
The following day, in the great hall of Havana University, we each propounded our ideas.
Our conceptions differ on matters that are outside the political sphere and which we have never even discussed.
Cuba's medical cooperation with Venezuela started with the Vargas tragedy, when thousands of people died because of the negligence and lack of foresight responsible for the conditions in which the poorest of that state lived.
Venezuela, for its part, has shown especial solidarity with the peoples of the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
Among the countries with which if has forged enduring links are Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. It has cultivated relations with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet-bloc countries. It does not forget Palestine or Libya. It pays special attention to its trade links and to its political relations with China.
It maintains solidarity with the peoples of Africa. It pursues a policy of peace with all countries. The name of Hugo Chávez is admired and respected all over the world; everyone - including many of his opponents - wish him a speedy recovery.
The doctors are working hard and with optimism to that end. As is well known, we Cuban revolutionaries are all disciples of Martí and Bolívar. I'm sure that with him - and even without him, however painful his absence would be - his team will be able to continue his work.
Long live Hugo Chávez!
Ever on to victory,
15 December 2012.