CARICOM loses a stalwart

Region mourns passing of former Trinidad & Tobago PM

The late prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, is being remembered across the Caribbean as a stalwart who was committed to regional integration.

Manning died on Saturday morning at the San Fernando General Hospital from Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a rare and aggressive cancer of the blood. He was 69.

Patrick Manning (left), the then prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, in company with his CARICOM counterparts (from left)  Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Owen Arthur of Barbados.
Patrick Manning (left), the then prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, in company with his CARICOM counterparts (from left)
Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Owen Arthur of Barbados.

He served as leader of the twin island republic on two occasions, from 1991-1995 and again from 2001- 2010 and was the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, having represented the San Fernando constituency for the People’s National Movement (PNM) from 1971 up until his retirement from politics last year. Manning served as political leader of the PNM from 1987 to 2010.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today paid glowing tribute to the late leader, saying the region had lost a stalwart.

“He worked tirelessly at home and abroad to defend and promote national interests.  Not only was he dedicated to the welfare and development of his own country, but he demonstrated an unswerving commitment to regional integration,” Stuart said in a statement.

Opposition leader Mia Mottley also hailed the late prime minister as a gentleman and a “fervent supporter of regional integration”.

“I got to know him well when I had to report to him directly for two years when he was the Lead Prime Minister for Security in CARICOM and I led the security efforts in the ten countries of the region preparing for the hosting of Cricket World Cup in 2007.

HEADS ALL: From left, Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr Kenny Anthony of St Lucia and David Thompson of Barbados.
HEADS ALL: From left, Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr Kenny Anthony of St Lucia and David Thompson of Barbados.

“Indeed, it is this work, and his leadership that led the way for CARICOM to agree that security would be the fourth pillar on which our Caribbean Community would rest,” Mottley said in a statement.

She added that Manning was always a gentleman, “unfailingly courteous and always accessible”.

“While Mr Manning did not always agree with what you said, he was always willing to listen.  I also benefited considerably as a young politician as he liberally shared his experiences. He was always interested in your welfare and development.

“Indeed, he reinforced in me the importance of remaining close and faithful to the people you represent.  I would forever remember his constant caution that most politicians were enamoured by the platform but that it was the personal interaction, the groundwork that made the decisive difference. In his words, the platform would never win you an election but it could cost you a victory,” Mottley noted.

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), meanwhile, has been remembering Manning’s “unflagging, commitment to regionalism”, as well as his unequivocal support for the establishment of the Court.

“Prime Minister [Manning] took to ensure that the State of Trinidad and Tobago lived up to its material obligations as the seat of the Court.  The CCJ acknowledges the depth and breadth of Mr Manning’s vision for a united and progressive Caribbean Community.

“It recognizes its commitment to tertiary education in the region, a fundamental part of his vision for a developed and truly independent Caribbean society,” the CCJ said.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley noted that up until his death, Manning remained “a source of guidance and inspiration to a generation of national and regional leaders who still sought his counsel even after he left active public life”.

Here, US President Barack Obama has the full attention of Trinidad and Tobago’s Patrick Manning.
Here, US President Barack Obama has the full attention of Trinidad and Tobago’s Patrick Manning.

For the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr Timothy Harris, Manning was “one of the most successful political leaders in Trinidad and Tobago”, and one whose support the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) could always rely upon.

“Mr Manning was a strong proponent of Trinidad and Tobago establishing closer ties with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States by it entering into a political and economic union with OECS Member States,” a statement from Harris said.

Harris also commended Manning’s approach to matters of security, energy and development, as well as his handling of the financial difficulties faced by the CL Financial group that included CLICO and its sister company, British American Insurance Company (BAICO).

Manning received several accolades throughout his political career, including the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy’s ‘Democracy Prize’ for his work in promoting the principles of democracy in the region and he was also awarded the Caribbean-Central American Action’s ‘Star of the Caribbean Award’ for efforts to improve the economic wellbeing of the people of the Caribbean.

He was also bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, which he accepted on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Manning’s body will lie in state on Thursday and Friday, before he is granted a state funeral on Saturday.

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