Amadeo Francis awarded Virgin Islands Medal of Honour

JOHN COLLINS, Observer Correspondent

Monday, February 04, 2002    

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PUERTO RICO -- After being unceremoniously dismissed from a senior position in the government of the US Virgin Islands (USVI) in November by Governor Charles W Turnbull, Amadeo I D Francis has now been awarded the Virgin Islands Medal of Honour by a unanimous vote of the island's legislature.

Francis was fired from his post as director of administration and finance for the USVI Public Finance Authority (PFA) after a distinguished 46-year career in public service in the USVI and Puerto Rico.

Hailed as a "Renaissance man" by Senator Donald Cole, Francis was described as "a man of honour, a man of courage and one who stood up to what is happening in the PGA."

Charging that Francis was treated shabbily, Cole said: "A prophet has no honour in his own land." Both Cole and Senator Alicia Hansen of St Croix questioned the legality of Turnbull's termination of Francis' contract.

In his last post since 1993, Francis was instrumental in the acquisition of the West Indian Company in St Thomas by the USVI government from Danish interests. He served the last three USVI governors as well as Turnbull. Earlier he was commissioner of tourism and in that capacity served as president of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

In Puerto Rico, where he entered government service after attending the old Polytechnic Institute which became Inter-American University, Francis served in several positions in the Economic Development Administration (Fomento) in the administrations of Governor Luis Muoz Marin and Rafael Hernandez Colon. An assistant to Teodoro Moscoso in Operation Bootstrap, Francis also served at one point as deputy Fomento administrator in charge of the agency's entire US operations.

Serving with Fomento administrator (and later Secretary of State) Antonio J Colorado, Francis was a key player in the implementation of Puerto Rico's Caribbean Development Programme. As Commonwealth under secretary of state, in 1990 under Hernandez Colon and Colorado, Francis headed the team that successfully achieved observer status for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

A renowned sportsman, Francis received international recognition in track and field. A competitor in both the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympic Games, Francis, carried the flag of Puerto Rico in the Olympics for the first time at Helsinki in 1952.

In addition, he has served since 1989 as president of the North American, Caribbean & Central American Athletic Association. And since 1999 he has served as president of the Pan American Athletic Commission and as one of the four vice presidents of the IAAF.




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