Praying for Chávez
As the world awaits further news on the health of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, representatives of the governments of Jamaica and Venezuela and a throng of other diplomats gathered yesterday at the Grace Missionary Church in Kingston to offer prayers on his behalf.
Chávez, who is to be sworn in as president for another term, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was present at the church service, used the occasion to highlight the long-standing relationship between Jamaica and Venezuela.
"In times of great economic challenges, Venezuela stood firmly with Jamaica and gave us great assistance through the PetroCaribe programme. And so, I am here to join with the officials and the government of Venezuela, our ambassadors representing other countries, and I would like to say to you that for (God), nothing is impossible," Simpson Miller said.
The prime minister added that over the years successive governments of Venezuela have always paid special attention to Jamaica because of the connection with their liberator, Simón Bolívar.
"(Simón) Bolívar spent some time in Kingston, Jamaica, and that's where he wrote the famous letter pleading for peace in the Americas," Simpson Miller noted.
In the meantime, Venezuela's vice-minister of foreign affairs, Temir Porras, who was also present, said he was overwhelmed by the "amount of love and solidarity" being extended to his president.
Commenting on Chávez's Christian faith, Porras said he has exemplified his faith through his willingness to help the people of the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
"President Chávez has lived as a Christian who shares with the people of Latin America, the people of the Caribbean, and the people of the world, but specifically, also with our brothers and sisters of Jamaica," Porras said.
"(He has) shared as much as possible the wealth of our country, showing that this wealth is to be shared by all of our sisters and brothers in Latin America and the Caribbean, because, once again, our common enemy is poverty, our common enemy is misery."
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell, while also commenting on the relationship between the two countries, said Jamaica stands in solidarity with Chávez and that "we do hope and pray that his health will be restored".
Paulwell added, however, that if the worst should happen, it was his hope that the PetroCaribe agreement would be preserved.