HAVANA – Bolivian President Evo Morales met with Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel during a brief stop en route to the United States for an event at the United Nations, Cuba’s official media reported Friday.
Morales took the opportunity of the “fraternal encounter” Thursday night to again express Bolivia’s solidarity with Cuba over the deaths, injuries caused by the tornado that struck Havana last weekend, Communist Party newspaper Granma said.
Both leaders also affirmed their “unwavering” support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as he faces a challenge from the speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, who last weekly swore in as interim head of state.
Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua are standing by Maduro in the current crisis, while the US, Canada and most Latin American nations back Guaido, denouncing the sitting president as a “dictator.”
Mexico and Uruguay decline to take sides in the conflict, instead offering their services as mediators, while Bolivia has agreed to join an “international contact group” of European and Latin American countries within a mission to help resolve the crisis in Venezuela.
The contact group is an initiative of the European Union, though the European Parliament voted Thursday to recognize Guaido as acting president and several individual EU members, including Spain, say they will likewise recognize the opposition leader if Maduro does not agree by next Monday to call new elections.
The two presidents were accompanied during the meeting by Morales’ chief of staff, Juan Ramon Quintana, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
Bolivia and Cuba have forged strong bilateral ties since the leftist Morales took office in 2006, and thousands of Cuban doctors are working in the Andean nation to provide health care to underserved populations.
Morales was one of the first heads of state to visit Diaz-Canel after he became president in April 2018, succeeding Raul Castro.
The Bolivian president participated Friday in the launch of the year-long International Year of Indigenous Languages at UN headquarters in New York.
The initiative aims to raise awareness of the loss of indigenous languages across the world and the need to preserve and revitalize them.