FOREIGN AFFAIRS and Foreign Trade Minister Senator A.J. Nicholson yesterday said that if the late Hugo Chávez's United Socialist Party wins in another national election "we would dare to hope that the PetroCaribe and other projects would continue."
In an interview on Radio Jamaica yesterday, Nicholson sought to allay fears regarding the PetroCaribe deal, noting that Venezuelan Vice-President Nicholas Maduro had made a promise "not so long ago" that the entire agreement would be extended. He noted that there were many other spin-off projects from the agreement.
However, he argued that, "If the party does not win, we do not know how it will go, but we dare to hope that the projects would continue."
Describing Chávez as a champion of South-South cooperation, Nicholson said the late Venezuelan leader understood the plight of the peoples of the developing world.
Doesn't come often
Indicating that there were other leaders in Latin America who were of like mind as Chávez, Nicholson said: "We don't know who will fill his shoes," adding "the question is, can his shoes be filled - his kind doesn't come very often."
Speaking with The Gleaner shortly after Chávez's death was announced, former energy minister in the Jamaica Labour Party administration, James Robertson, said there were a number of things to watch before a determination could be made about the future of the PetroCaribe arrangement.
"As they unfold, it will be very clear to us where we stand with the PetroCaribe," Robertson added.
Paying tribute to the late Venezuelan president, Robertson said: "Jamaica has lost a friend (and) the Caribbean has lost a friend.
"What he did under the PetroCaribe fund ... when we had oil prices spike in mid 2007-2008, that period before the recession, when it went down in 2008-2009, I can tell you, in my opinion, it saved the Jamaican economy, that initiative," Robertson asserted.
He said he met Chávez on two occasions and concluded that he had "a special place in his heart for Jamaica and saw us as his brothers".