Condolences pour in for Chavez
By CLINT CHAN TACK Wednesday, March 6 2013
CONDOLENCES poured in last night from local and regional politicians to the people of Venezuela as news broke of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said, “He was as you know one of the more charismatic and courageous leaders in Latin America and one of the more charismatic leaders of our generation. He will be sadly missed and we extend our condolences to the people of Venezuela at this difficult time and an appropriate correspondence will be sent to the Government of Venezuela in due course.”
Moonilal added, “Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed several decades of a very collaborative and fruitful relationship on issues of trade, energy, science, technology and culture. Notwithstanding the illness to Mr Chavez, we continued to work very well with the Government and people of Venezuela.”
Saying Chavez’s “determined and passionate leadership” will be missed, Moonilal stressed: “The bilateral ties with the Government of Venezuela, I believe, are secured.”
He hoped that Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, would “continue along those
Moonilal did not see Chavez’s death having any effect on diplomatic relations which
TT has with either Venezuela or the United States.
“You will recall that just over a year ago, President Chavez welcomed Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar and her delegation to Caracas to discuss trade and energy matters,” he said.
“I am sure that relationship with Venezuela will continue and our very strong relationship with the US and all other countries continues, notwithstanding the loss of a really great figure in regional and world politics.”
Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon, who was foreign affairs minister when Chavez attended the Fifth Summit of the Americas in TT in April 2009, extended condolences to Chavez’s family and the government and people of Venezuelan on behalf of the Opposition PNM.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of grief. We do wish their country well as they go through a process which is expected with the death of a leader,” Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the defining characteristic of Chavez and a standard which all political leaders should emulate was that “he was so in touch with his people. He was so well liked, so well loved and he spoke to his people for hours upon hours on a Sunday. Call him what you may, I think it is a standard on which all leaders can be judged,” Gopee-Scoon said.
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday said: “He was an extremely committed man. He cared about Venezuela and the people of Venezuela.”
Contacted in New York where he is on government business, newly elected Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said he was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Chavez’s passing. “I would like to express on behalf of the Government and people of Grenada our deepest sympathies to the people of Venezuela on the loss of their president,” Mitchell told Newsday.
He said the countries of the Eastern Caribbean were grateful for the support which Chavez offered them through “hard recessionary times” through initiatives like PetroCaribe. Mitchell said Chavez will be remembered as a leader who fought hard for regional unity and hoped Maduro would continue along that path.
In a statement, Organisation of Americas (OAS) Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said the flags of all OAS nations will be flown at half mast as a mark of respect for Chavez and its Permanent Council will be convened in his memory. “It is a time of great sorrow for Venezuelans and we stand with them, together with all the peoples of the region,” Insulza said.
“We are certain that Venezuelans will know to come together in difficult times like these and move in peace and democracy toward the future,” Insulza added.