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Dookeran to represent T&T at Chavez’s funeral (with CNC3 video)
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran will represent T&T at tomorrow’s funeral in Caracas of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Roodal Moonilal confirmed that yesterday. Chavez, 58, died at a Venezuelan military hospital at 4.25 pm on Tuesday. He had headed the United Socialist Party governing Venezuela since 1998, His death followed almost two years of treatment and several visits to Cuba for reported pelvic cancer.
A public funeral will be held tomorrow in Caracas after seven days of mourning were announced yesterday, Moonilal said. The Venezuelan Embassy yesterday opened a condolence book at its Port-of-Spain office. The Venezuelan flag is being flown at half-mast at all of its diplomatic stations worldwide.
Moonilal said Dookeran, currently at a Bogota, Colombia, conference, will go directly to Caracas for the funeral. He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who has extended condolences to the Venezuelan people, would be engaged in Parliament tomorrow in the debate on legislation to empower soldiers to assist in the anti-crime thrust.
Dookeran, from Bogota, said T&T had lost a great friend in Chavez. He added: “The region and the world will remember him for championing the cause of Venezuela’s poor and marginalised and for demonstrating the strength and determination in uniting Latin America.” Moonilal said: “We are hopeful the transition for Mr Chavez’s successor and the successor regime will be peaceful and democratic principles will be adhered to.
“We are hoping the successor to Mr Chavez will continue to promote regional integration and work with Caricom states on mutually beneficial issues, particularly trade, security and energy.” Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who worked with Chavez on regional issues during his administration’s tenure, would not be attending the funeral, his wife Hazel Manning said. Manning is continuing to receive therapy in Port-of-Spain, she added.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon who, along with Manning, hosted Chavez during the 2009 Summit of the Americas in T&T, said the spotlight fell on the Venezuelan leader and then new US President Barack Obama. She said Chavez showed his commitment to the Caribbean, particularly on energy, providing oil below world prices to several islands and one could not be critical of Chavez in totality as a leader.
She added: “That is in terms of the development of his country and people. “He had great support among Venezuelans despite all the problems there and that’s a measurable standard by which we must look at any leader. So in a way he was extremely successful.”
When news of Chavez’s death broke, much US attention was focused on Venezuela, which holds one of the world’s largest oil reserves, and the implications of the situation, considering the deep political rift between the two countries. Chavez, at a 2006 UN forum, referred to former US President George W Bush as “the devil.”
He, however, appeared to have less animosity towards Obama though Chavez and other Latin leaders gave Obama a sound “hazing” when Obama attended the Summit of the Americas in T&T soon after he entered office. Chavez subsequently said he was “disappointed “ in Obama.
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