Above: Venezuelan Ambassador to Haiti Pedro Antonio Canino Gonzalez, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and President Michel Martelly (Photo: OP Haiti)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Haiti held a special mass Friday in support of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, who is currently in Cuba following surgery this week for cancer in the pelvic area.
The mass, for the “prompt recovery” of Chavez, according to a statement from the government, was attended by President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. It was initiated by the Venezuelan Embassy in Haiti.
While Chavez’ health has reportedly been declining for some time, Venezuela’s contributions to Haiti have not, through the country’s PetroCaribe fund, which offers cheap oil to a number of Caribbean countries through long-term, low-interest financing.
Venezuela has also been working with Haiti on other projects, such as a recent initiative to construct rice mills in the country and a partnership with China to open appliance stores to sell products at reduce prices in Haiti.
In a statement Saturday, Venezuela’s Executive Vice President Nicolas Maduro said “the news we receive from Havana every day is very encouraging for the progressive recovery of Commander Chavez.”
Martelly, addressing the crowd at the Church of Saint-Pierre of Petion-Ville, said he was “glad” they were “moving in large numbers to pray for President Hugo Chavez.”
“President Hugo Chavez is a friend, a brother to Haiti,” he said. “He sets up social programmes for the well-being of vulnerable families across the region, particularly in Haiti.”
Martelly attended the summit of Chavez’ ALBA Alliance in Caracas earlier this year. Fellow CARICOM Member States Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines are members of the alliance, while Haiti is currently an Observer. Cuba is also a member.