Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro praised the «integration role» of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) bloc during its 13th anniversary closing ceremony on Thursday in Havana, Cuba, pointing to the positive relationship between the Americas and the Caribbean, despite perceived US interference. Maduro, who arrived in Havana from Turkey on Thursday, delivered a speech... Еще at the closing ceremony, which was also attended by Cuban President Raul Castro. «ALBA has become, since its first steps, a powerful moral, spiritual, political, social and economic alliance, it is a powerful sign of hope which has achieved many great things for our nations and many more to accomplish in the future,» said the Venezuelan president. In his speech, the Venezuelan leader recalled the first 1994 meeting of deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and late Cuban former president Fidel Castro, who paved the way and founded the organisation, on December 14, 2004, as an alternative to the Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAA), promoted by the United States. Among the achievements of the 11-nation alliance Maduro highlighted several successful social programs, including projects dedicated to bringing health, sports and education to disadvantaged sectors. He also denounced the «obsessive and active persecution» of the U.S. towards his country.