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You can count on Cuba, today and always

diaz y  maduroWith pride and reverence I begin to speak, as Martí said. I do so aware that, having been judged worthy of the Order of the Liberators of Venezuela, it is to Cuba, to Cuban men and women, to whom this immense honor is conferred.

I humbly receive it, on behalf of a heroic and noble people, and I interpret this as an act of undeserved generosity toward myself, and of just recognition to the Cuban people, who have followed, through glorious pages of sacrifice the preaching of Bolívar and Martí to make the dreams of independence and liberty of these heroes a reality.

It was Bolívar who envisaged from that distant era the threat posed by U.S. imperialism to genuine Latin American and Caribbean integration, which still has a long way to go to materialize, but which merits all our efforts.

The symbolism of this Order stems from the important contribution of Venezuelan brothers to the noblest causes of humanity, who made this land known as the cradle of revolutions.

This decision further encourages our commitment and solidarity with this brave Bolivarian and Chavista people, and our enthusiasm and dedication to work toward the best destiny for our nations. To do this, we must move forward with ongoing cooperation projects, identify new ones and reinforce our solidarity.

In this act I remember the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who so admired and supported the Bolivarian process, and whom you deservedly distinguished with this honor; and also Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, honored with this Order and who has always had a connection of revolutionary faith with Venezuela, since its early struggles for emancipation, as he himself recalled when he was awarded here, to this minute.

Thus I pay tribute to they who maintained a sincere and loyal friendship with President Hugo Chávez Frías, who never bowed down or abandoned the struggle, and always trusted in the wisdom of Venezuelan revolutionaries to move forward; who upheld at all times, with courage and resolve, their ideas, their convictions and their truths.

Dear Nicolás:

I reiterate the gratitude to the people and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I receive this Order on behalf of the Cubans who are in solidarity with their Venezuelan brothers; of the Cubans who enjoyed the successes, charisma and extraordinary generosity of Comandante Chávez and his indelible revolutionary example and who, together with his beloved Venezuelan people, mourned his passing; on behalf of the Cubans who have enjoyed your victories, your talent and solidarity in the face of the aggression and siege of the imperialist and neoliberal right, aware that the revolutionary legacy is alive and vibrant in Venezuela.

I assure you, unhesitatingly, that no matter how big the difficulties and challenges may be, you can count on Cuba, today and forever.

Thank you very much (Applause).

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