Premier Alden McLaughlin has joined with regional leaders in extending condolences to the family of former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur and the people of Barbados, following the passing of the regional leader.
McLaughlin, in statement on Friday afternoon, said he was “saddened” to hear of the death of the former prime minister.
Arthur, 70, passed away on Monday after being hospitalised last week with heart complications, according to regional reports.
This week, tributes from leaders, including Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, and the CARICOM Secretariat poured in.
McLaughlin lauded Arthur’s contribution to the region and his partnership with the Cayman Islands.
“From the early days of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, Mr. Owen proved to be a strong ally and tireless advocate for the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean nations that benefited from his expert knowledge, statesmanship and diplomacy,” the premier said in his statement.
He said Arthur served “his people well, leading his country for 14 years from 1994 to 2008; the longest-serving Barbadian Prime Minister to date at the time of his death at the age of 70”.
Arthur also served as Leader of the Opposition from 1993 to 1994 and again from 2010 to 2013.
He was later appointed Professor of Practice: Economics of Development at the University of the West Indies (UWI); a role he held until his death.
In his statement, McLaughlin recounted Arthur’s commitment to regional integration.
“Mr. Owen Arthur will also be remembered for his unwavering advocacy of CARICOM pushing for the advancement of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). He was instrumental in establishing a Secretariat Office in Barbados and worked tirelessly to move the CSME forward. I shall always remember his passion about the economic advancement of Caribbean people as well as his love of Caribbean cricket,” he said.
Arthur visited Cayman twice, the premier pointed out; in 1999 and 2012.
“Many in the Cayman Islands may fondly recall Mr. Arthur’s visit in September 1999 to our Islands when he served as co-chair of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, which he expertly guided, alongside then-Financial Secretary Hon. George McCarthy,” he said.
McLaughlin added, “Mr. Owen was a Caribbean visionary who promoted the advancement of all Caribbean countries. In March 2012, while serving as Leader of the Opposition, he gave the keynote address for the 50-50 Caribbean Conference hosted by the University College of the Cayman Islands, speaking of the emerging place of the Caribbean in global political and economic arenas.”
The premier, in his statement on the passing of Arthur, said that on behalf of the government and the people of the Cayman Islands, he extended “our most profound condolences to his wife, Julie, and two daughters Sabrina and Leah, extended family members, and the people of Barbados, including members of the Barbadian community residing here in the Cayman Islands. He will always be remembered for his many contributions to his beloved Barbados and its people and to our Caribbean region. May his soul rest in peace.”
A condolence book is available to sign today, until 6pm, at St. George’s Anglican Church on Courts Road, off Eastern Avenue, in George Town.