HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro today justified the use of the death penalty on the island while speaking in Santiago de Chile with fellow members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reported DPA news.
Speaking off the cuff, he defended actions against drug trafficking as a “battle of blood and fire.” Castro added: “Our laws allow the death penalty. This action has been suspended, but it’s on the books, because one time we suspended it and all this did was to stimulate acts of aggression and sabotage against my country.”
Today the Cuban president is assuming the rotating presidency of CELAC, an organization that was born in December 2011 and brings together all the countries of the Americas – with the exception of the United States and Canada.
Speaking at the plenary session, Castro also honored the “extraordinary leadership” of Hugo Chavez, who is in Havana recovering from his latest cancer operation on December 11. Despite his absence, the Venezuelan president has garnered much attention in Santiago de Chile.
“From here we reiterate to Chavez our affection, respect and admiration for him, as well as his valiant people, who are fighting for greater political stability, security and happiness,” said Castro.
The Cuban president criticized the attack being waged against Chavez and his government in a “sustained campaign by the empire,” referring to the United States. He added that the Venezuelan people and pro-Chavez leaders “are setting an example of loyalty, conviction and confidence.”
Concerning CELAC, the 81-year-old Cuban leader made a closed defense as a diverse but common space that will allow the region to advance “independently” and in control of its natural resources.
He recalled, however, that poverty remains a problem in the region. “We cannot forget that 170 million people in Latin American and the Caribbean live in poverty,” therefore he called on CELAC to develop a concept of cooperation for combatting this.
Likewise, Castro blamed the developed countries for the international crisis and for the advance of climate change. “The international economic order is unfair and exclusionary, trapped in a global crisis which, for now, no solution is in sight. Climatic change is inexorably progressing in the absence of the political will of the governments of developed countries,” he said.