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Venezuela to sign deal for poor tourists to travel free to Cuba

The government of President Hugo Chavez plans to sign an agreement with Cuba to send at least 100,000 poor Venezuelans to the communist-led island for no-cost vacations, an official said Wednesday.

Chavez and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage were expected to sign the deal allowing low-income Venezuelan families to soak up the sun on the Caribbean island during talks in Caracas, Tourism Minister Titina Azuaje said in a statement.

The tourism program would benefit Venezuelans who are involved in newly created communal councils — neighborhood-based groups that resolve local problems — and government-run programs called "missions," which provide education, subsidized food and health care for the poor.

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