Leaders hail Arthur as stalwart of regional integration

Leaders hail Arthur as stalwart of regional integration

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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Regional leaders yesterday paid tribute to former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur, pointing to his deep and unwavering commitment to the Caribbean, as well as his sterling service to his country over many years.

Arthur, Barbados' longest-serving head of government, died early yesterday morning. He was 70. He had been admitted earlier this month to Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering heart-related complications.

Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Arthur served Barbados and the Caribbean with distinction.

“Owen Arthur was passionate about his country and the dream of regional integration. In the 1990s and early 2000s he helped to shape the political scene in the region. I extend sincere condolence to the family of Owen Arthur and the people of Barbados,” Holness said in a tribute posted on Twitter.

Former Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson, in his tribute, said the people of Barbados and the entire Caribbean have lost a stalwart of regional integration and a relentless advocate of the region within the global halls of power.

“He loved Jamaica and we therefore feel his loss in a very special way. Whether as chairman of the Caribbean Community or as the standing head of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), he led with impeccable distinction in his own inimitable style,” Patterson said.

“He was convinced of the innate ability of the countries of the region, working together to create wealth and to achieve and sustain high standards of living for their citizens,” Patterson added.

“Within the Commonwealth, he contributed immensely to the discourse on small island states and led international assignments. Owen was never timid in articulating the social and economic injustices meted out to Caribbean peoples and highlighting the historical obstacles with which our societies have had to contend in our decades-old quest for independence, self-determination, survival and growth,” Patterson said.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley praised Arthur for his significant and meaningful contributions to the political and socio-economic development of the island as well as the wider Caribbean community.

She said his passion for the development of the region “coincided with his responsibility as the lead prime minister in Caricom for the single market and single economy”.

“I was with Owen in Jamaica when he signed in 2006, with tremendous pride, the instruments that brought the Caricom Single Market into existence,” she said.

“But he never, in so doing, compromised his economic training and his commitment at all times to sound policy. It was his hallmark,” Mottley said, adding that Arthur was a “man for all times” who never lost the thirst for public policy and that his counsel, especially on the Barbados economy, “was rendered to all governments”.

People's National Party President and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said he was shocked and saddened by news of Arthur's untimely passing.

He said Arthur gave distinguished service to his country, especially as prime minister, and made important and fundamental contributions to regionalism, having been the prime minister who led the push for the single market and economy in the Caribbean Community.

“He was also an avid sportsman, and I will treasure memories of Owen in the stands with us enjoying cricket matches in Jamaica and Barbados,” Phillips said.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves described Arthur as a “titan of regional integration, and a most esteemed son of our Caribbean civilisation”.

“Our Caribbean, our hemisphere, and our world have lost a statesman and intellect of the highest quality. We shall miss him. I shall miss my dear friend, Owen, a progressive soul who applied his heart to wisdom,” Gonsalves said.

He said he was “personally enveloped in profound sadness, grief, and pain” at Arthur's death, “yet full of fond and uplifting memories of him”.

Also paying tribute was The University of the West Indies (UWI) which Arthur served as professor of practice.

“Owen Arthur, without a doubt, is one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th-century Caribbean,” said UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles .

“Emerging from the second generation of nation-builders he was a successful champion of the most important discourses of his time. We knew him as a quintessential regionalist and a leader in development economics. He was also a humanist with deep commitment to social justice,” Sir Hilary added.

“The UWI he empowered in his role as prime minister, and from which he was proud to be a graduate, researcher, and lecturer, professor of practice, and honorary distinguished fellow, celebrates his legacy,” Sir Hilary said.

In his tribute, Sandals Resorts International Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart said it was with great sadness that he learnt of Arthur's passing.

“I wish to take this opportunity to extend my sincerest condolence to Mr Arthur's family, his wife Julie and daughters Leah and Sabrina, as well as the people of Barbados and the wider Caribbean,” said Stewart, who is also chairman of this newspaper.

“Mr Arthur was an exceptional leader and a treasured friend. I was very fortunate to have spent some time with him during the Test match against England at Kensington Oval last year, and he was as witty, charming and personable as always …he will be deeply missed,” Stewart said.

“As the longest-serving head of Government in Barbados Mr Arthur proved to be a visionary leader who played a key role in the opening up of the tourism sector in the region in terms of identifying key investments, and working with all stakeholders including the airlines,” added Stewart.

He described Arthur as “a statesman of the highest order” who shared a vision for the entire Caribbean to progress and grow.

“I know Mr Arthur's legacy will live on,” said Stewart.

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