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    Cuba's former President Fidel Castro listens to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a meeting in Havana Jan. 31, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 January 2016

Jan. 1 marks 57 years since the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista by guerrilla forces, led by Fidel Castro, in 1959.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro congratulated Cuban President Raul Castro and former leader Fidel Castro on Friday as Cuba celebrates the 57th anniversary of its revolution.

“The Cuban revolution is a paradigm of dignity for all the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, waging anti-imperialist struggles for justice, independence and self-determination of the people,” the Venezuelan government said in a statement.

Jan. 1 marks the date that of the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista by guerrilla forces, led by Fidel Castro, in 1959.

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In the 57 years of its revolutionary process, Cuba has managed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and women's empowerment as well as reducing the mortality rate of children under five.

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The Venezuelan government praised the “admirable struggle of resistance” in Cuba, which over more than five decades has fought to liberate Cubans from “the largest empire known to humanity,” without falling victim to U.S.-backed attempts to sabotage the process with the more than 50-year blockade and “constant conspiring.”

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The Venezuelan goernment statement also condemned the ongoing blockade of Cuba by the United States calling for, “a new era characterized by the end of the criminal blockade imposed by the United States.”

Cuba has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. end the economic blockade against the island, return the U.S. naval-occupied territory of Guantanamo, and respect the Cuban sovereignty by halting all funding of anti-government groups.

The year 2015 has been a landmark in the history of U.S.-Cuba relations as the two countries established foreign embassies and continue to normalize ties after decades of frozen relations.

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