Cuban dissidents in exile have called for the overthrow of President Fidel Castro and the foundation of an independent and democratic government in Cuba.
GV PAN INTERIOR Officials and audience applaud at the start of the anti-Castro meeting in Caracas
SV Bayard Rustin, Huber Matos and Vladimir Vukovski (left to right) seated at table in middle of Venezuelan officials
CU Matos (left) and Vukovski at front table
CU Lady wearing "Cuba Independent and Democratic Congress in Caracas" emblem (2 shots)
CU Free Cuba emblem on show
CU & LV Bayard Rustin speaking in English and interpreted into Spanish (2 shots)
SV Audience applaud
CU Vukovski speaking in Russian
SV Audience applaud as Matos mounts platform
CU & LV Matos speaking in Spanish (2 shots)
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Background: Cuban dissidents in exile have called for the overthrow of President Fidel Castro and the foundation of an independent and democratic government in Cuba. More than one hundred and fifty delegates from countries throughout Latin America on Friday (17 October) attended the opening session of a two-day anti-Castro congress in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.
SYNOPSIS: The congress took place at a time when relations between Cuba and Venezuela had reached an all-time low. Cuba's entire diplomatic staff in Venezuela were recalled by President Castro on 27 September (1980) in response to a verdict by a Venezuelan military tribunal over the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner. A Cuban exile and three Venezuelans accused of causing the explosion, in which 73 people died, were found not guilty of murder. President Castro described their acquittal as 'monstrous'.
American representative, Bayard Rustin set the theme for Friday's speeches when he called on the delegates to unite and work for the freedom of the Cuban people. Mr. Rustin claimed President Castro's regime had deprived Cuba of fundamental human rights, social justice, and economic and political independence. Many of the delegates present at the congress went into self-imposed exile earlier this year during the mass exodus of Cubans dissatisfied with the island's Communist system. In April, Cuba accused Venezuela of trying to 'legalise crime' by offering diplomatic protection to Cubans who forced their way into its embassy in Havana seeking to emigrate.
Main speaker at the congress was Hubert Matos, who fought alongside Fidel Castro against the regime of President Batista in the late 1950s. After Mr. Castro took power, Mr. Matos was accused of plotting a counter-revolutionary military uprising. He spent twenty years in jail in Havana before being released last year. On Friday (17 October), the former political prisoner told supporters he would fight to the death for the overthrow of the Cuban dictatorship.