Cuban Admirers Erect Chavez Monument on Mountaintop

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – A group of enthusiasts has placed a bust of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on top of one the highest mountains in Cuba, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.

The two-meter sculpture, made of resin and fiberglass, was erected Thursday on Pico Caracas at the height of 1,234 meters (4,050 feet) above sea level next to a bust of Simon Bolivar, one of the most important leaders of South America’s Independence movement in the 19th century.

Among the climbers who placed the Chavez bust was Rene Gonzalez, a member of The Cuban Five – a group of Cuban intelligence officers convicted in the United States of espionage and other illegal activities. Gonzales was released from a US prison in 2011, while other members still serve their sentences.

Under Chavez, Venezuela became the main political and economic ally of Cuba. Bilateral trade is estimated at several billion US dollars.

Cuba has also been providing extensive medical aid to Venezuela since 1999 in exchange for oil supplies.

Under a bilateral program, known as the “oil for doctors,” Cuba has sent 31,000 doctors to Venezuela and provides training for 40,000 Venezuelan medical personnel. In exchange, Venezuela ships 100,000 barrels of oil per day to Cuba.

After Chavez’s death on March 6, Cuba declared a 3-day mourning. Hundreds of thousands of Chavez admirers gathered around the country to pay tribute to the late Venezuelan leader, who was known as the most vocal US adversary in Latin America.