'Cuba-US rapprochement reflects changes in Latin America'

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the US is a sign of changing times in Latin America.

Caracas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the US is a sign of changing times in Latin America.

Maduro said the Dec 17 announcement that the two countries had agreed to restore diplomatic ties was the result of political changes in Latin America, reported Xinhua citing the letter sent to Cuban leader Raul Castro and published Friday by the Cuban media.

"There is still a long way to go before Washington acknowledges that we are no longer its backyard," wrote Maduro in the letter dated Dec 20, citing the term often used by US legislators to refer to Latin America.

"However, I believe that it (the rapprochement) is a highly important step in order for the United States to understand that here, in our land, there has been a change of epoch, that (Latin America) has changed forever and will not backslide," added Maduro.

He also hailed the release of three Cuban prisoners by the US.

The prisoners were arrested in Miami, Florida, in 1998 and handed lengthy prison terms for spying on right-wing Cuban exile groups intent on overthrowing Cuba's Communist government.

The release of the prisoners closes "one of the many shameful chapters in interventionist and criminal US policy," Maduro said.

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