Condolences have poured in for the former prime minister of Barbados Owen Arthur, who died early Monday morning. Barbados will observe three days of mourning, beginning on Monday.
Former TT prime minister Basdeo Panday said he knew Arthur very well, having interacted with him frequently at Caricom conferences.
“He was a bright and intelligent person, very likeable man, and I wish his family and friends condolences and my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the sudden sad news of Arthur’s death came at a time of heavy challenges for the region.
“Having seen him at work in Guyana recently, this Caribbean statesman gave us no hint of an imminent demise because we had become so accustomed to his resilience, grit and wisdom. We received the news with shock and mourn his passing alongside our brothers and sisters in Barbados and the rest of our region. We all should be comforted that this Caribbean giant came from us and for decades, made a lasting contribution to our progress and, for that, we will continue to remember him in the annals of our history.”
Rowley extended deepest sympathy to Arthur’s family, colleagues and all the people of Barbados.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar offered condolences to the people of Barbados on Arthur’s passing.
“Our Caribbean region has lost one of its greatest statesmen and a true leader of character who dedicated his life not only to the development of Barbados but the entire region. The fact that he was the longest-serving Prime Minister of Barbados, serving from 1994 - 2008, is a testimony to his dynamic vision and progress-driven approach which significantly improved the lives of the people of Barbados.”
She said Arthur's vision went beyond the borders of Barbados as he committed to improving the overarching socio-economic structure of Caricom and strengthening regional development.
“While we mourn the loss of a Caribbean icon, his legacy will live on for many generations as inspiration for many Caribbean youths who wish to enter politics and more so, make a change to their countries.”
UWI St Augustine Principal Prof Brian Copeland said Arthur had an interesting personality, like many politicians in the region.
“He was someone who had a tremendous passion for his country and the Caribbean at large. I think it’s a tremendous loss but it’s a fact that all men must go. He made a tremendous contribution and left an indelible mark on the history of the Caribbean for the future. May he RIP.”
UWI Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said Arthur was one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century Caribbean.
“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.”
Arthur had a long history with the UWI, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1971 in Economics and History at Cave Hill, and his Master’s degree in Economics in 1974 at Mona. He also taught in various positions and since 2016, he served as one of the eminent patrons of the annual UWI Global Giving Week, which has been dedicated to cultivating support to strengthen The UWI’s capacity to drive regional development.
Beckles said “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. Condolences are offered to his family, and government and people of Barbados.”
Arthur’s political career began with his appointment to the Barbadian Senate in 1983. In 1993 he was appointed as the parliamentary Opposition Leader as head of the Barbados Labour Party and, upon the party’s decisive victory in the September 1994 elections, he became Prime Minister.