Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Arrangements are to be made for Parliament to properly acknowledge the contribution of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, who died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.
During yesterday's sitting of the House of Representatives, all present were in one accord as they recognised what they considered the enduring friendship and love that Chávez, defiant to his detractors in life, had for Jamaica and its people.
Members of parliament were in the House conducting the nation's business when the news spread through the parliamentary chamber that Chávez had succumbed in his long battle with cancer.
Both Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition Leader Andrew Holness rose to acknowledge the occasion, describing his death as sad.
From her seat of leadership, Simpson Miller, having earlier spoken informally with Leader of Government Business in the House Phillip Paulwell, then signalled to a nodding Opposition Leader Andrew Holness that a tribute was in order and rose to formally inform the House.
"I crave your indulgence of the House … of a sad report that the president of the Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, has passed," Simpson Miller said.
She added: "Obviously, we have to make arrangements, to pay our proper respects to President Chávez, but let me say, on behalf of the people of Jamaica, we extend condolences to the people of the Republic of Venezuela and to his people and his family."
Stressing that Chávez was a friend of both administrations, Simpson Miller described the PetroCaribe arrangement as a result of the vision and foresight of President Chávez and referred to the relationship between the two countries, evident in Simon Bolivar writing a historic letter from Kingston.
"Both administrations, no matter which was in power, he was friend to both. He assisted Jamaica in a period of need … . We will be making the necessary arrangements so that we can arrange proper tribute," she said.
Said Holness: "The Opposition joins in expressing our deepest sadness … . I had the opportunity to meet the man personally. No matter what can be said of him, we can say definitively here and now, that he was a good man with a good heart who had a special place in his heart for Jamaica."