Saturday, August 12, 2006 (Caracas):
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that his countrymen must be ready to help Cubans in any way.
The statement comes as Washington renews calls for a transition to democracy on the island while Fidel Castro recovers from surgery.
"Our Cuban brothers, we have to look after them, protect them and always talk with them, supporting them in whatever they may need, said Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington's stance following Castro's illness.
Speaking at the presidential palace yesterday, Chavez applauded Cuban doctors working in Venezuela for having left their families at home and "giving everything for us."
"We can give everything for them too. Love is paid with love, as Jose Marti tell us," said Chavez, referring to the Cuban poet and independence hero.
The Venezuelan leader said Thursday that Castro, his close ally, was in a "great battle for life" after temporarily transferring power on July 31 to his brother Raul, citing surgery to repair intestinal bleeding.
But Chavez expressed faith yesterday that the Cuban leader would recuperate. (AP)