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HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba praised on Monday the election in Venezuela of a new legislative superbody and denounced what it called an international plot to suppress the will of the Venezuelan people in the wake of U.S. sanctions on its key ally.
"Cuba denounces the initiation of a well-orchestrated international operation, directed in Washington ... to silence the voice of the Venezuelan people," the government said in a statement published by state-run media.
The U.S. government slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier on Monday in response to Sunday's election, which it called a "sham".
Governments from Spain to Canada to Argentina and Peru joined Washington in denouncing the vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and widely seen as an affront to democracy.
"We know well these interventionist practises," the Cuban government said. The United States imposed a devastating economic embargo on the Caribbean island after its 1959 revolution that Havana says has cost it more than $100 billion.
"They think that they will manage to achieve the submission of the people to a puppet opposition that they financed," it said.
Cuba said only the Venezuelan people could decide how to overcome their problems and reiterated its solidarity with them and their government.
Venezuela and Cuba became close allies in the late 1990s under the respective leaderships of Fidel Castro and his younger disciple Hugo Chavez, both now deceased.
Their close personal and political relationship resulted in extensive Venezuelan aid to the Caribbean island and a shared strategy for promoting Latin American unity against U.S. influence in the region.
Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Paul Tait