For many of us here in Dominica, this was not just another Head of State or Head of Government of a sister isle. Hugo Chavez was a true friend of Dominica…indeed he was Dominican in many respects.
I wish from the outset to declare a national state of mourning in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Each of us feels that special sense of loss because of the genuine friendship and love that President Chavez expressed and manifested for and towards Dominica and Dominicans.
It is without reservation therefore that I request that all flags in the Commonwealth of Dominica be flown at half staff effective tomorrow, Wednesday March 6th and continuing until the morning following the interment of our fallen friend and brother.
At this hour, I ask that we each place the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela in our prayers. We share their pain and great loss. It is for this reason also, that I have requested the relevant authorities to convene a special memorial mass at the St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church for Thursday, March 7th at 5pm. Here we will join officials of the Venezuelan Embassy in Roseau and other Venezuelan interests in Dominica in celebrating the life of our late Brother and Comrade.
Fellow Dominicans, this is not the time nor place for me to itemize the specific acts of kindness of President Chavez to Dominica. His love for and assistance to this island transcended the monetary, material or even visual. It is a love that manifested itself in our every encounter; whether in Caracas, Roseau or another regional capital.
I am sure that in the days ahead several Caribbean leaders will speak to the social and economic benefits Dominica and the rest of the region derived from President Chavez’s pro-Caribbean policies. I am sure there will be a chronicling of Petro Caribe, Alba and several such initiatives that were designed to improve relations between the Bolivarean Republic of Venezuela and the English speaking Caribbean. The impact of these policies on the lives and wellbeing of Caribbean people will be recorded I am sure.
Dominica will associate with all these tributes and acknowledgements, but above all Dominica will cherish the special place it held in the life and work of President Hugo Chavez.
As for me, I have lost a colleague, a father, a brother…and a friend. Hugo Chavez held my hand in the brightest and darkest hours of my tenure to date as your Prime Minister. Dominica and I could have looked to him for guidance and we received such in the spirit of mutual friendship and respect. His passing is a great loss to me, personally.
I wish on behalf of the Government and people of Dominica to extend our heartfelt condolences to the children and other relatives and friends of President Chavez. I wish to assure Vice President Maduro and other officials of the Government of Venezuela of Dominica’s continued support and solidarity for its work in the region and beyond. I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Ambassador Hayden Pirela Sanchez and the staff of the Embassy in Roseau.
In the days ahead, the Government of Dominica shall indicate further initiatives to appropriately record its sadness at the passing of President Chavez and its commitment to the commemoration of his work.
In the interim, I ask that we pray for the government and people of Venezuela and that we each reflect privately on the impact of this great leader on our country and the advancement of its people.
May God Bless you all and may God Bless Dominica.
I thank you.