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Cuba officially joins Rio Group
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08:38, December 17, 2008

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Cuba became officially on Tuesday a member of the Permanent Mechanism of Political Consultation and Coordination of Latin America, better known as the Rio Group, the sole mechanism of political consultation in the region.

In its extraordinary meeting held Tuesday in Sauipe Coast, a seaside resort in northeastern Brazil, the Rio Group made official entry of the island country, on the sideline of the first Summit of Latin America and the Caribbean (CALC), which will conclude on Wednesday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised the incorporation of the island country in the Rio Group, saying that "Cuba is essentially the heart and the dignity of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean ... Cuba always should have been returned to its place. Now we are complete, we are assembling a good team."

He noted that all Latin American integration schemes, such as the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), the Andean Community, the Caribbean Community and the Central American Integration System "are welcoming Cuba, in open arms."

Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS)in 1962, under the argument that its political system was "incompatible" with the inter-American system. That was a decision driven by the United States, whose government had imposed a political and economic blockade on Cuba.

For years, several member countries of the Rio Group had reiterated their willingness to let Cuba enter as a governmental entity, considering that it was necessary to complete the group with Cuba's presence.

In November this year, in the Mexican city of Zacatecas, the 27th Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Rio Group agreed to grant Cuba the category of full membership.


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