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Caribbean leaders pay tribute to Sir Alister McIntyre

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 22, 2019

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THE immense contribution of Sir Alister McIntyre to Caribbean development for more than 50 years was highlighted yesterday by the region's political and academic leaders, in tribute to the 87-year-old former University of the West Indies (The UWI) vice chancellor who passed away Saturday evening.

A Grenadian by birth, Sir Alister passed away in Jamaica.

“A foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people,” was how Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness described Sir Alister.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson remembered Sir Alister as “an intellectual giant whose monumental contribution to the integration movement will forever endure in our collective memory”.

To Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Sir Alister was “one of the Titans of the post-independence Caribbean”, while Jamaica's Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips described him as “a giant of Caribbean scholarship and a champion of the regional movement”.

Sir Shridath Ramphal, who shared a close friendship with Sir Alister for more than five decades, said that with his passing “a precious light has gone out in our Caribbean world”.

“He had devoted his life to Caribbean unity and was already, as he went, worrying over the darkening of the regional scene that threatens. The region's debt to Alister is payable only in a new enlightenment that makes Caribbean oneness the reality for which he lived,” said Sir Shridath, a former secretary-general of the Commonwealth and former chancellor of The University of the West Indies.

Prime Minister Holness reflected on the former Caricom secretary-general's significant contributions to the integration movement.

“His experience at the forefront of the post-independence movement and as an intellectual voice in the creation of the modern Caribbean economic and political identity, gave him a breadth of knowledge and experience that has benefited generations of Caribbean leaders and thinkers,” the Jamaican prime minister said.

Holness also said that, as the former secretary-general of Caricom between 1974-1977, Sir Alister spearheaded the movement towards integration.

“This, along with his tremendous contribution to academic discussions on the economic development of the region as well as economic integration between states, placed him as a foremost actor in our evolution as Caribbean people,” he said, adding that the economist served the Caribbean with distinction.

Phillips said he, too, is saddened by the death of Sir Alister, as for more than half a century his name has been synonymous with the quest for Caribbean development.

Dr Phillips described him as the quintessential Caribbean man who believed in the potential of the people of the region and was committed to their advancement through education, integration and economic independence.

He noted that Sir Alister was a distinguished international statesman who served in a variety of high-profile roles in the region and beyond.

“Though he hailed from Grenada and ultimately settled in Jamaica, he belonged to the entire Caribbean. Sir Alister will truly be missed,” Dr Phillips said.

Patterson said Sir Alister devoted his entire life in service to the region.

“He was an outstanding Caricom secretary general as we moved from a Free Trade Association into the Caribbean Community. His mastery of the complex technical issues pertaining to trade, finance and the development agenda provided the backbone for the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries) throughout the Lome negotiations,” he said.

Patterson said, too, that as deputy secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Sir Alister helped to fashion the economic agenda for the developing world by imaginative schemes such as the Common Fund.

“Every government in the region benefited from his economic expertise. We in Jamaica will remember at this time, that Hon Alister McIntyre was awarded the Order of Merit for the distinguished work he did with the late Mayer Matalon and Pat Rousseau during the negotiations with the bauxite companies,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, while expressing shock at the news of Sir Alister's passing said: “The people of the Caribbean, and their University of the West Indies... will not be impoverished by his transition because the phenomenal richness of his contributions to their growth and transformation will continue to yield development dividends deep into the future.

“The love and respect we carry in our bosom for him will bloom a thousand blossoms,” Sir Hilary said.

Sir Alister is survived by wife Marjorie, and children Arnold, Andrew, Helga, and Nicholas.


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