PM: Chavez broke new ground
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night paid tribute to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died yesterday afternoon after a two-year battle with cancer.
Speaking with reporters at the launch of consultations on local government reform at City Hall, San Fernando, Persad-Bissessar said: "Our condolences go out to the family and the loved ones of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela. He has always been a very flamboyant character, a very hard-working man."
Persad-Bissessar said Chavez broke new ground in his country and worked "to the best of his ability and so I am sure many will mourn his passing".
The Prime Minister recalled her last conversation with Chavez when she attended the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Caracas, Venezuela in December 2011.
"At that time I indicated my mother-in-law and brother-in-law were residents of Venezuela. He was very pleased when we met that we had that connection. The conversation we had was to wish him better health."
She said Trinidadians in Venezuela gave her a bottle of holy water "and I passed the water to him (Chavez) and I wished him the best and asked him, should he come to Trinidad, to bathe at Mt St Benedict...I do feel his loss and I am sure the people of Venezuela mourn him as well as praise the work that he has done there".
Persad-Bissessar said some held the view that Chavez took from the rich and gave to the poor, "but there are many in Venezuela when I was there, I could see the tremendous love for him. The fact that he won the election again showed that his popularity was tremendous".
She said someone in the Government would attend Chavez's funeral.