Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, 58, died Tuesday.
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, 58, died Tuesday.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 5, IWN – opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace late Tuesday night expressed condolences to the government and people of Venezuela on the passing of President Hugo Chavez and said he would send a formal note to Caracas.

Chavez, 58, had cancer.

Eustace said the death of the South American leader, who was elected to a fourth six-year terms in October, “has implications for us here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I know we have to sit down carefully and contemplate what the implications are,” he said on radio.

“We in the New Democratic Party have not had such a good relationship with President Chavez but when death enters on the scene one has to recognise and deal with that reality,” Eustace, a former prime minister said, as he noted that Venezuela and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have had diplomatic ties for many years.

“Indeed, I remember myself as a young economist travelling to Venezuela with then Prime Minister [Sir James] Mitchell in the early 70s. And our relations have been a long one, despite the fact that in the case of President Chavez, not as good as in previous years.

“But when it comes to death, one had to put these things aside and I want to extend to his family and to the people and the government of Venezuela our deepest condolences,” Eustace said.

“Death is not an easy thing to deal with and very often one has to put aside what differences you may have. On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I do so tonight. Tomorrow, I will send off something in a much more formal manner through the embassy here to the government of Venezuela,” Eustace said.

Eustace and his New Democratic Party have often criticised the close ties between the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration and Chavez’s Bolivarian government.

They have accused the Vincentian government of supporting Chavez in his ideological war against the United States and criticised the government’s decision to sign up St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Chavez’s Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA)

ALBA is a co-operation bloc that is based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is associated with socialist and social democratic governments and is an attempt at regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid.

Star FM, owned by Gonsalves’ ULP, said Tuesday that he would make a statement about Chavez’s death “in due course”.