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Chavez was Cubans' best friend: Fidel Castro

Posted on Mar 12, 10:26AM | IANS

Havana, March 12 : Former Cuban president Fidel Castro said here Monday that the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was the "best friend" the Cuban people had in history.

In his first public statement after Chavez's death, the 86-year-old retired Cuban leader in an article published by the official media, said the news of Chavez's death was a bitter hit, Xinhua reported.

"Venezuela is the home of the Liberator (Simon Bolivar), where the idea of the union of the peoples of America was conceived. Then Venezuela should be the leading country in uniting the peoples of America. The Cubans support our brothers in Venezuela," Castro said.

Chavez had maintained close friendship with Castro and used to regard the ex-Cuban leader as his political mentor.

The 58-year-old died March 5 in Caracas due to a cancer detected in June 2011 in Havana, a city where he received the most of his medical treatment, including four surgeries.

He had declared himself as the political heir of Castro and was the best economic and political ally of Cuba during his 14-year rule in Venezuela.

Castro ruled Cuba for 48 years, defying 10 US presidential administrations. He ceded power to his brother Raul Castro in 2006 due to a serious intestinal disease.