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Cuba, Venezuela Reject New US Effort Supporting Democracy in Cuba


The United States has highlighted its new effort to support an eventual a transition to democracy in Cuba, while again accusing Venezuela of trying to block efforts for political change. Havana and Caracas have rejected the latest U.S. push.

Cuba and Venezuela have reacted angrily to the new $80 million U.S. program that supports a transition to democracy in Cuba.

The president of the Cuban parliament, Ricardo Alarcon, has told reporters he thinks the U.S. effort is a provocation that will intensify the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, hurting those who need aid and medical attention.

The U.S. effort was announced Monday with the release of a report by the bipartisan Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. The program includes funds to strengthen democratic efforts for Cuba and bring information to the island via broadcasts and the Internet.

But the commission's report also accuses Venezuela of trying to block efforts toward democracy on the island.

The U.S. Cuba transition coordinator, Caleb McCarry, briefed reporters in Miami Wednesday and repeated the charge.

"The current regime in Havana is working with like-minded governments, particularly Venezuela, to build a network of political and financial support designed to forestall any external pressure for change," he said.

But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez describes the report as a "new imperialist threat" and says Venezuela will further support Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959.

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