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Fidel Castro Expresses Support for Bolivia's Morales

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he has phoned Bolivian President Evo Morales to express support for the indigenous leader's hunger strike.

In an article published on a Cuban state Web site, Mr. Castro said he called Mr. Morales Friday, after meeting in Cuba with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Castro said he relayed a message of solidarity on behalf of Mr. Chavez and himself, and expressed their confidence in the Bolivian president's victory.

President Morales began a hunger strike Thursday to pressure lawmakers to pass a controversial electoral law ratifying December 6th as the date for general elections.

The election bill has been held up by demands for an updated voter registry, arguments over whether Bolivians living outside the country should be able to vote, and a dispute over the number of seats in Congress that should be assigned to indigenous groups.

Mr. Morales has said he will refuse to eat until the electoral measure passes Bolivia's opposition-led Senate.

The Bolivian leader is a loyal follower of Fidel Castro, just like Venezuelan President Chavez.

In addition to Bolivia, Mr. Castro said he and Mr. Chavez discussed the Venezuelan leader's recent visits to China, Japan and Iran.

Mr. Chavez said he was visiting Cuba to prepare for an upcoming summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which will be held on April 16th, one day before the Summit of the Americas begins in Trinidad and Tobago.

Venezuela and communist-led Cuba created the ALBA alliance in 2004 to counter U.S. influence in the region.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.