Ali Rodriguez, Venezuela's ambassador to Cuba and former OPEC official, dies


Venezuelan Ambassador to Cuba Ali Rodriguez Araque, who also served as secretary-general of OPEC and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), died in Havana, President Nicolas Maduro said. He was 81.

"With much sadness I receive news of the death of Ali Rodriguez Araque, a tireless fighter, one of those who have been indispensable for the revolution," Maduro said Monday in a Twitter post.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a statement on Tuesday that Rodriguez Araque was a politician "inseparable from Cuba."

"Our most heartfelt embrace goes out to the Bolivarian family that suffered the loss of an exemplary revolutionary, Ali Rodriguez Araque, Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba, guerrilla, politician, intellectual and Latin Americanist, inseparable from #Cuba. Until forever, brother," the Cuban leader said in a Twitter post.

Rodriguez Araque, who had worked as ambassador in Havana since 2014, was born in Ejido, a town in the western state of Merida, on Sept. 9, 1937.

Durante the 1960s and 1970s, he took up arms and joined those attempting to overthrow the two-party system that ruled Venezuela and had marginalized groups of communist sympathizers.

Known as "Commander Fausto," he laid down his arms in early 1980 but kept up his harsh criticism of the governments of the Accion Democratica and Copei parties, which alternated in power during the first 40 years of Venezuela's democratic era.

During late President Hugo Chavez 's 1999-2013 administration, Rodriguez Araque held high-level government posts, including minister of Energy and Mines, Foreign Relations, Finance and Electric Energy.

He was secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) between January 2001 and June 2002, and secretary-general of Unasur between 2012 and 2014.

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