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Castro makes first official foreign trip

 Castro makes first official foreign trip
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Cuban President Raul Castro has arrived in Venezuela on his first overseas trip as leader.

The symbolism was not lost on his host President Hugo Chavez – fifty years ago, Castro’s brother Fidel chose the same country for his first international visit after claiming victory in Cuba’s 1959 revolution.

Today’s get together is important for Raul Castro on several levels; it helps boost his credentials as a statesman since taking over from his brother as leader earlier this year as well as helping his country’s trade prospects.

Cuba receives 100,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil everyday – something which makes relations between the two countries decidedly unequal but the leaders are also backing over 300 joint projects in health education and culture.

And Cuba is seen by Chavez as something to emulate in so far as the communist run island has been a thorn in the side of the US for decades.

But on the whole the trip is largely about gestures of cooperation ahead of a summit of Latin American leaders in Brazil in a few days time.