Chávez first struck up a friendship with Cuban President Fidel Castro during a 1994 visit to Cuba before he was ever elected president. The friendship between the two leftist leaders endured throughout Chávez's rule, and the two countries became major trading partners. In 2000, Chávez agreed to supply Cuba with 53,000 barrels of oil a day (a figure that would be bumped up to 90,000 barrels in 2005) in exchange for Cuban doctors and teachers coming to Venezuela. Cuba has also provided Venezuela with military assistance while Venezuela has invested in Cuban infrastructure projects. Chávez, meanwhile, has described Castro as a father figure.
Above, Castro and Chávez greet each other before the ninth Ibero-American Summit in Havana in November 1999.
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