Sir Alister McIntyre Passes On

Sir Alister McIntyre, an architect of the present economic structure of Caricom (the Caribbean Community) died in later April. He was 87.

Caribbean political leaders, and leaders in other fields, reacted to Sir Alister McIntyre’s passing who in the 1970 was principal economic advisor to the late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley when Manley became leader of his party.

“Shocking is the news that our Sir Alister has passed. Larger than life in his long sojourn, it is difficult to embrace the finality of this existential fragility.  The people of the Caribbean, and their University of the West Indies — which he served as Vice-Chancellor— will not be impoverished by his transition because the phenomenal richness of his contributions to their growth and transformation will continue to yield development dividends deep into the future,” Sir Hilary said in a condolence message.

Sir Shridath Ramphal, the former secretary general of the Commonwealth and a former Chancellor of the UWI, said that “a precious light has gone out in our Caribbean world.”

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, “I am deeply saddened he was a respected economist, educator, administrator and true champion of regional integration.”

Jamaica opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips remarked, “For over 50 years Alister McIntyre’s name has been synonymous with the quest for Caribbean development. He was a giant of Caribbean scholarship and a champion of the regional movement.”

Sir Alister lived in Jamaica for almost all his adult life thereby most Jamaicans claim him as a son of the soil but he was born, raised and received his primary and secondary school in Grenada.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell remarks, “It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Sir Alister McIntyre. Grenada, Jamaica, in fact the entire Caribbean has lost a dear son who has left us a rich legacy, characterized by profound knowledge and unwavering commitment to regionalism.

Grenada was his homeland and Jamaica was where he lived but much of his life was spent in service to the people of the region.

In his early career as a lecturer in economics at the University of the West Indies, at the St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago and the Mona Campus in Jamaica, Sir Alister helped to mold the minds of many brilliant persons who have had the benefit of his teaching, some of whom have since earned acclaim in their respective countries and also at the regional level. Later, as Vice Chancellor of UWI, he contributed to shaping the strategic direction of this noble regional institution.

Sir Alister was third in the line of distinguished Caribbean nationals who served as Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM),1974 to 1977, and his leadership of the organization came at a critical juncture, just one year after the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed. Sir Alister can therefore be considered one of the pioneers who shaped the infrastructure on which we have built our efforts at regional integration.

I remember Sir Alister serving as Chief Technical Officer of the Caribbean regional Negotiating Machinery and playing a crucial role in trade negotiations at the international level. The early successes of that body in negotiations with the World Trade Organization and the European Union spoke volumes of the technical capacity of individuals like Sir Alister.

After the U.S. invasion or rescue mission of Grenada in October 1983, Governor-General Paul Scoon invited Sir Alister to head an interim government. Sir Alister accepted but shortly later rescinded. Some Grenadians felt McIntyre has abandoned Grenada in its darkest hour allegedly to fulfill other commitments and health reasons.

Privately, Sir Paul Scoon was not pleased. In an off- the-record conversation with the publisher of EVERYBODY’S Magazine a few years later, Sir Alister said it was not for health reasons nor for existing commitments.   

It was at Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY, almost two decades ago Sir Alister suggested that UWI graduates worldwide organize annual fundraising events in countries where they resided to assist Caribbean students who are qualified to study at the UWI but couldn’t due to financial reasons.

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