CASTRIES, St Lucia – The passing of professor Owen S. Arthur, the former prime minister of Barbados was received with profound sadness. Barbados and the Caribbean Community have lost a true patriot and a great champion of Caribbean civilization.
Arthur was small in stature, but a giant of a man in every sphere of his existence. He emerged as the colossus of Caribbean politics in the 21st century, challenging leaders across the region to adopt a transformative mindset to propel our regional community to aspire to greatness.
Dedicated as he was too uplifting the people of his beloved Barbados, he was equally committed to advancing the cause of Caribbean regional integration. In his inaugural term as prime minister, his first significant regional overture was towards the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) when in 1998, he tried to revive the links and federal idea between Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean islands that had been severed in agony in 1965.
His vision of a new Little Eight; a confederation of Barbados and the members of the OECS; was unfortunately not grasped by other Eastern Caribbean leaders.
This did not diminish his allegiance to regional integration. He poured his energy and considerable intellect into the vision of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) for which he was the lead prime minister. The CSME has progressed to the stage it is today due largely to Arthur’s drive and passion for the region.
Owen Arthur was a friend of the Saint Lucia Labour Party and we will always remember his stimulating and thought-provoking address to the party’s annual conference of delegates in 2015. On becoming the political leader of the party, I frequently sought his advice on matters relating to the economy of Saint Lucia and the region.
Arthur leaves an indelible footprint in the soil of the Caribbean and his passing is a deep loss – not only for the people of Barbados but also for the people of the entire regional community. This is a testament to the magnitude of his contribution to the development of Barbados and the wider Caribbean.
On behalf of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, I extend my sincerest condolences to his wife Julie, daughters Leah and Sabrina, other relatives, the people of Barbados, and our Caribbean Community.