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Cuba's Castro hits out at U.S. over Latin America policies

RIA Novosti

23:51 14/12/2009 HAVANA, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - Cuban President Raul Castro criticized the U.S. over its Latin American policies on Monday.

Speaking at the opening of an ALBA summit in Havana, the Cuban leader said the U.S. was treating the region as its "backyard." He also hit out at Washington over a recent deal with Colombia that allows U.S. forces to deploy in the country.

Castro also had harsh words for the U.S. over its policies regarding the military coup in Honduras, where, he said, the people had been "deprived of their constitutional rights."

"The times in which we live reflect that the confrontation between two historic forces is becoming more acute in Latin America and the Caribbean," Castro also said.

"On the one side, a dependent, elitist and exploitative political and economic model inherited from colonialism and subordinated to the interests of the empire. On the opposing side, the advance of revolutionary and progressive political forces, which represent the traditionally dispossessed classes," he added.

Castro's criticism came after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at the summit that a recent statement by the U.S. secretary of state on ties with Iran was "a clear threat" against his country and Bolivia.

Hillary Clinton said on Monday that "if people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them." She expressed hope that they would "think twice" before doing so.

"Clinton's statements are, above all a threat to Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as the whole Bolivarian Alliance," the EFE news agency quoted the Venezuelan leader as saying.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country is suspected by Western powers of developing a nuclear program aimed at the production of an atomic weapon, has visited a number of Latin American states in late November, including Bolivia and Venezuela.

ALBA, or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, was founded by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in 2005 and now comprises nine members - Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.

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