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      Correa: Continue Fighting for 'Justice, Freedom, Sovereignty

      January 28, 2016 (teleSUR English)

      Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa closed Wednesday’s heads of state meeting at the fourth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, with a call for member countries to continue fighting for “justice, freedom and sovereignty.”

      “CELAC continues fighting the attacks in Latin America, like the U.S. blockade on Cuba or the attacks against Venezuela that have been labeled by the U.S. as a threat to its homeland security,” he said Wednesday.

      The meeting, held in Quito, Ecuador, brought together 22 presidents from across Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss questions of regional importance, such as food security and the fight against organized crime and corruption.

      As a result of these discussions, several key declarations were ratified by CELAC members including the declaration to end the U.S. blockade against Cuba, to defend the Malvinas Islands, to support the peace process in Colombia, to prohibit nuclear testing and to support policy to protect migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean.

      Other highlights included Haiti’s call for a CELAC electoral mission to help manage the country’s political crisis.

      Unity and regional integration was a central theme of the summit with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arguing, “We have to promote a collective understanding, which is capable of overcoming differences that can arise among us with regards to different ideas, development models and subregional differences.”

      Bolivian President Evo Morales likewise stated “The purpose of CELAC always has been and always will be to work towards liberating the region both economically and politically.”

      President Correa concluded the heads of state meeting by passing the pro tempore presidency of CELAC to the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina.

      CELAC will continue until Jan. 29.

      Venezuela Gov't and Grassroots Plan Expanding Urban Agriculture

      January 30, 2015 (TeleSUR English)

      Venezuela launched Saturday a national conference on urban agriculture, aimed to boost the productivity of small scale crops in major cities like Caracas.

      The conference is the first of its kind in Venezuela, and will include government officials and representatives of grassroots organizations. President Nicolas Maduro is also expected to attend.

      The president has said improving urban agriculture will support his government's aim to bolster the broader economy.

      “If we want a society that is viable, progressive, socialist and humanist, then we need … productive cities,” Maduro stated.

      The conference included an exhibition of crops obtained through urban agriculture, as well as workers and training given by experts and producers.

      Under Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government began promoting urban agriculture as a way to improve food sovereignty.

      The initiative focused on developing organoponicos – a system of urban, organic agriculture developed in Cuba.

      In 2013, Maduro vowed to double the number of organoponico units nationwide. Earlier that same year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recognized Venezuela for more than halving hunger within its territory.

      According to Venezuela's official figures, the socialist government has invested US$142 billion dollars in food programs over the last 10 years, resulting a drop in malnutrition to 5 percent for close to 14 percent in 1992.

      US to pay Iran $1.7bn in debt, interest

      January 17, 2016 (Press TV)

      US Secretary of State John Kerry says that Washington is slated to repay Iran a $400 million debt, along with an additional $1.3 billion in interest.

      Kerry made the announcement on Sunday, adding that the payments date back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, according to the AFP.

      The news comes only a day after President Barack Obama signed an executive order, lifting US economic sanctions on Iran.

      The repayment, arranged after an international legal tribunal, is separate from the tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets that Tehran can now access.

      Iran and the P5+1 - the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany - finalized the text of the JCPOA in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015.

      Under the agreement, limits are put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all nuclear-related economic and financial bans against the Islamic Republic.

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