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  • PM Simpson Miller has lauded the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, as “an extraordinary son of the region” and “a great friend of Jamaica”.
  • Mrs. Simpson Miller said the late President’s legacy lives on through his many contributions to the region.
  • She was speaking on February 21, at the official launch of the photographic exhibition, ‘Chavez was here’, at the Tom Redcam Library in St. Andrew.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has lauded the late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, as “an extraordinary son of the region” and “a great friend of Jamaica.”

Mrs. Simpson Miller said the late President’s legacy lives on through his many contributions to the region, noting that he was “a man with a generous heart, who had a strong sense of responsibility to this country and the region.”

She was speaking on February 21, at the official launch of the photographic exhibition, ‘Chavez was here’, at the Tom Redcam Library in St. Andrew.

The exhibition, hosted by the Venezuelan Government in collaboration with the Institute of Jamaica and the Jamaica Library Service, is to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of the late President.

The Prime Minister pointed out that among President Chavez’s most significant contributions to the region is the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement.

PetroCaribe, launched in 2005, is an oil alliance between Venezuela and a number of Caribbean states to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporting country and has the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

“President Chavez’s legacy is burnished by the flagship PetroCaribe Energy Agreement. It is a legacy being ably [implemented] by the current President Maduro, who has succeeded President Chavez,” she said.

The Prime Minister argued that the agreement has emerged as a source of stability and a lifeline to many countries in the Latin American and the Caribbean region that continue to grapple with challenges.

“His personal vision to assist the countries of the region to achieve self-sustainability, through addressing their crippling energy costs, is a testament to his commitment to the peoples of our region,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister also counted the establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) among Mr. Chavez’s many accomplishments, pointing out that he was one of the chief architects of the wider regional integration mechanism.

She said the birth of CELAC was a milestone in the fulfillment of his dream for a united Latin America and Caribbean.

“He believed that amidst our diversity as a people, that which unites us as a region is far greater than that which separates us and he wanted the people of Latin America and the Caribbean to be united,” the Prime Minister added.

She noted that the late President had a caring heart and was always willing to lend a helping hand to his Latin American and Caribbean brothers and sisters.

This, she said, was quite evident in his early response to the pleas for aid, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010. He was also among those to respond when the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia suffered severe infrastructural damage, following the passage of Hurricane Tomas that same year.

The Prime Minister said the exhibition is an important event, which will allow Jamaicans the opportunity to directly access information about “this unique human being, who gave so much of himself and his country towards a common good.”

Venezuelan Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Maria Jacqueline Mendoza Ortega, in her remarks, said President Chavez’s four visits to Jamaica in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, sought to reinforce the strong bonds between the two countries.

“President Chavez shared a sincere friendship and solidarity with the people of Jamaica, with whom we hold historical ties, shaped by the liberator, Simon Bolivar,” she said.

‘Chavez was here’ is a global campaign launched in a number of countries across the world, including Bolivia, Cuba, Argentina, and Russia. The exhibition in Jamaica will be open to the public from February 22 to 28.

Hugo Chavez was President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in March, 2013.