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PM to attend Caracas funeral (with CNC3 video)
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar heads a T&T team attending this morning’s funeral for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Government said yesterday. Chavez, who died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, will be honoured with a public funeral in Caracas at 10 am. Afterwards his body will be put on permanent display. T&T’s team will be among a large line-up of world leaders attending the funeral. Up to yesterday, ten of the 15 Caricom leaders had confirmed their attendance.
Also attending are the leaders of Argentina, Belarus, Bolivia, Chile, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who visited Chavez several times, is also attending, as are ministers from India. The US, despite its turbulent relationship with Chavez , is sending a delegation of congressional and state department officials.
On Wednesday acting Foreign Affairs Minister Roodal Moonilal said Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran—now in Colombia—would represent T&T, since Persad- Bissessar had today’s parliamentary debate on legislation to incorporate soliders in the anti-crime fight. Later on Wednesday, after Persad-Bissessar signed the condolence book at the Venezuelan Embassy and met with the Venezuelan ambassador, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement, saying she would leave at 4.30 pm yesterday to attend Chavez’s funeral.
The PM will return this evening. MP Errol McLeod will act as Prime Minister in her absence. Accompanying the PM to Venezuela is her security adviser Gary Griffith.Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed said Dookeran is expected to leave Colombia to join the T&T delegation at the funeral. In her condolence letter, Persad-Bissessar said death had cut short the life of a committed integrationist who was dedicated to the equitable development of his people and the Caribbean. She said Chavez left a strong leadership and was unshakeable in his commitment to his principles.
President George Maxwell Richards also sent a letter of condolence to interim Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro yesterday. Richards wrote: “T&T and Venezuela share strong fraternal relations based on our history and culture and as such we commiserate with the Government and people of Venezuela at this difficult time.” The Venezuelan Embassy in T&T has been holding a wake. The Cuban embassy yesterday hailed Chavez as a “true son” of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro and close friend of Raul Castro. The embassy said Chavez would go down in history as a hero of the Americas.
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