The Caribbean and in particular sister countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have lost another stalwart in the field of politics and regional integration. Dead is former Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Sir James Mitchell.
Since his passing tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the region starting from Saint Lucia where both Prime Minister Philip J Pierre and Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet expressed their sorrow at Mitchell’s passing.
“The Government and the People of Saint Lucia mourn with the People of St Vincent and the Grenadines on the passing of Former Prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and I ask that we keep them in our prayers. May he rest in peace,” said Prime Minister Pierre.
“Sir James was a dedicated strong advocate of regional integration and for the greater part of his political life fought assiduously to unify our region under one flag, with similar policies. He was an avid writer. He wrote countless articles and books on agriculture. In 2006 MacMillan Caribbean published his autobiography “Beyond the Islands.”
“With the passing of the Rt. Honourable Sir James Mitchell, our entire region has lost one of its greatest champions. Saint Lucia in particular has lost a much esteemed, irreplaceable friend. He and our own Sir John Compton were close friends for all their lives. They shared many passions, especially their great love of boats and all things related to the sea,” Chastanet said.
Also paying tribute to Sir James were the CARICOM Secretariat and the OECS Commission, institutions which Sir James played a great role in to the point where the CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett described him as a “true stalwart of integration”.
“He was a one-of-a-kind leader who became Premier in the most unique way,” Dr. Barnett noted, adding that he proceeded to make an indelible mark on the development of his country and the Community.
Secretary-General of the OECS Commission Dr. Didacus Jules noted that Sir James “proudly championed the OECS and will forever be enshrined in the pantheon of the historic greats of our region. One of Sir James’s most notable moments was at the 25th Meeting of the OECS Authority in 1995, when he championed as Chairman, the idea of the inclusion of Barbados, signaling his ambitious aspiration for the expansion of the Caribbean family.”
Chairman of CARICOM Prime Minister Gaston Browne, expressed deep sympathy at the passing of Sir James.
“The region has lost a true champion of our CARICOM integration and a significant figure in advancing the region’s causes in the global community. We join the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, especially the people of the island of Bequia where he was born and in which he spent his happiest times”, Prime Minister Brown said.
Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell served as Premier and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 1972 to 1974 and 1984 to 2000, respectively. In his capacity as Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he also served as a member of the OECS Authority and as Chairman of the Authority in 1988, 1995, and 1996.
Sir James had been an active advocate of the idea of a political union of the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in the early 1980s.
The former SVG Prime Minister had been admitted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados after being diagnosed with dengue and a number of other health-related conditions.
During his long and distinguished political career, he made tremendous contributions to achieving the political independence, economic stability and growth and development of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Sir James entered politics in 1966 by winning a legislative seat as a candidate of the St Vincent Labour Party. He was an agronomist and served as Minister for Agriculture from 1967 to 1972. After serving as the second Premier of St Vincent from 1972 to 1974, he founded the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1975, which is now the opposition, is headed by Godwin Friday.
Sir James Mitchell later became the second Prime Minister of St Vincent, from 1984 to 2000.
He was the only surviving person who was a parliamentarian at the time of Independence on October 27, 1979.
Sir James died in his native St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday at the age of 90.