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Prof Norman Girvan dies in Cuba

BY PETER RICHARDS

Thursday, April 10, 2014    

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Prominent Caribbean academic, Professor Norman Girvan, died in Cuba yesterday, three months after he became paralysed following a fall while hiking on the Caribbean island of Dominica. He was 72.

Girvan, the former secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), was also Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Director of the International Relations Institute at the St Augustine campus of the UWI, Andy Knight, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that Girvan had been flown to Havana for medical treatment and was due to have undergone an operation to ease the pain on his spine.

"We were still hopeful that perhaps at some point he would have been strong enough to get the operation done and that would release the pressure on his spine," he said, adding that the "vertebrae was crushing the spinal cord...and brought back some of the movement in his body.

"From his neck down he was paralysed and today we heard he passed away. We are very heavy-hearted because we felt Norman still had a lot to give to the region," he said.

Girvan, said Knight, wrote a chapter in the recently released Mapping the Americas. "We were just saying we hope this is not his final academic piece because he still has so much more to give to the region, in terms of ideas he had and the ideas he had for the integration of the region and so on. We were hoping that he would get released so he could actually make more contributions, but unfortunately he did not make it," he said.

In 2010, Girvan was appointed as the personal representative of the United Nations secretary general on the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute. He had also served as a board member of the South Centre, and since 2009 was a member of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy.

Girvan served as professor of development studies and director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, and head of the National Planning Agency of the Government of Jamaica.

He has published extensively on the political economy of development in the Caribbean and the Global South and was the recipient of several honours and awards.

Girvan was in the forefront of the efforts to get the Dominican Republic reverse a Constitutional Court ruling that stripped more than 210,000 Haitians born in Dominica of their citizenship.

In December last year, he co-signed a letter to the Caribbean Community, on behalf of the International Relations Institute at UWI, saying the new law had the potential to de-nationalise hundreds of thousands

of people.

Girvan is survived by his wife and two children.

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