Venezuela’s Maduro travels to Cuba ahead of Obama visit


Just days before President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a historic visit to Cuba, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced late Thursday that he was also heading to Havana to strengthen bilateral ties with the Communist island.

In a nationally televised address, Maduro said he would travel to Cuba Thursday night to review “social, cultural and economic accords.”

The president said he would be working through Friday and making several announcements during the trip. While it’s unclear how long Maduro will stay, he’s not expected to overlap with Obama and the U.S. delegation that will be arriving there Sunday.

Venezuela and Cuba have been staunch allies for more than a decade and Caracas has propped up the island’s economy with subsidized fuel. Thawing relations between Havana and Washington have been seen as a threat by some in Venezuela’s ruling party, as Maduro struggles to hold onto power amid an economic crisis and an emboldened opposition.

“We are brothers,” Maduro said of the two nations, “who find and re-find ourselves in historic times.”