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article imageBolivian leader visits embattled Venezuelan counterpart

By AFP     May 22, 2016 in World

Bolivian President Evo Morales made a brief visit to Venezuela on the weekend during which he reiterated support for his embattled ally, Nicolas Maduro, state media reported.

During the visit, made late Saturday, Morales expressed "all our solidarity, all the support of the Bolivian people" and hailed military exercises Maduro had overseen the two previous days.

The two leftwing presidents hold staunch anti-American positions and have pursued socialist policies aimed at bettering the poor, mainly through nationalizations.

They have also recently both run into political turbulence.

Morales, who lost a referendum that would have opened the way for him to secure another mandate, said Bolivians were being "fooled by the right."

Maduro is facing rising public discontent over the collapse of Venezuela's oil-based economy. The opposition is seeking to oust him through a recall referendum.

Morales' visit was a stopover on his return from a trip to Cuba, where he held talks with the island's communist leaders, President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel.

Maduro was to fly to Jamaica on Sunday for what he said were talks on bilateral trade and political accords.

Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA jointly owns the sole refinery in Jamaica with that country's Petrojam.

Jamaica is also one of the beneficiaries of Venezuela's PetroCaribe program to supply cheap oil to Caribbean and Central American countries.

Both initiatives are under pressure from Venezuela's economic straits.

Venezuela has been selling off assets this year -- notably gold in its reserves -- to keep up with debt repayments.

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