Former St Vincent PM Sir James Mitchell dies at 90Wednesday, November 24, 2021
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Sir James Mitchell, the second prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, died yesterday, his family has confirmed. He was 90 years old.
His death has brought to an end an era in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines, since he had been the last surviving parliamentarian of those who served when the island gained political independence from Britain on October 27, 1979.
“We are saddened to hear the news that the founder of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Sir James Mitchell has passed away. He was one of the founding fathers of our nation and served as the second prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines from 1984 to 2000, as well as premier to St Vincent and the Grenadines from 1972 to 1974,” the NDC said in a statement following the announcement of his death.
“During his time serving our nation, he achieved huge amounts in steering St Vincent and the Grenadines in the right direction, by providing economic stability and improving housing across our islands. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) once said of his economic leadership 'there's much to please and little to fault'.
“Sir James is undoubtedly to be credited for numerous developments in our country. He was the embodiment of a true statesman and a nation builder. Sir James was much loved by everybody that knew him and we pray for his family during this difficult time. May he rest in peace,” the party added in the statement.
Sir James, who was popularly known as “Son Mitchell,” died five days after being discharged from the Intensive Care Unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, where he had been taken after falling ill at his home in Bequia on October 30.
He was initially diagnosed, in Bequia, as having a gallstone, but was brought to the capital, Kingstown, where doctors said he had an infection.
“I have never hid my condition from the people of St Vincent and as you know, I have always been reporting how I am feeling well and swimming and all of that,” Sir James told CMC in a telephone conversation from his hospital bed in Kingstown on October 31.
He said then that he had taken a fall in his kitchen about four months ago and while he suffered no broken bones, he had been experiencing some health challenges since then.
Doctors later decided to transfer Sir James to Barbados, where he was treated for severe dengue and sepsis, among other complications, his family said.
After being discharged from hospital last Thursday, Sir James was taken back to “his beloved home Bequia” where he died.
“Throughout this entire ordeal, Sir James has been comforted by the support and love expressed on a daily basis by his former Cabinet ministers, colleagues, constituents and his cherished NDP family,” the family said in a statement last Thursday after his release from hospital.
“We appreciate the outpouring of concern from every segment of the Vincentian populace for Sir James. We also thank his friends and colleagues from across the world who have reached out. The family is truly humbled by the tremendous solicitude and support at this time,” said the statement issued by his daughters Sabrina, Gretel, Louise, and Gabija.
Sir James, an agronomist, was born in Bequia on May 15, 1931. He was premier of St Vincent from 1972 to 1974 and then prime minister from 1984 to October 2001. He remained NDP president until 2000 when he retired from electoral politics.
After his retirement, Sir James campaigned with the NDP in the general elections of 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020, as well as the constitutional referendum of 2009, when the NDP persuaded the electorate to reject proposed changes to the 1979 constitution that would have allowed the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be the island's highest court.
He also focused on his family's hotel businesses and writing and commented intermittently on national issues. His most recent comments on national issues focused on trying to convince residents of SVG, where there are pockets of deep-rooted COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy to get inoculated against the virus.