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E-070/99ie
July 2, 1999

 

OAS OFFICIALS HAIL LATE ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA STATESMAN

 

The Washington-based Organization of American States has joined the international community in mourning the death of former Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, Sr.

With an outpouring of sympathies from Caribbean and other world leaders, Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria and Assistant Secretary General Christopher Thomas both sent letters of condolences to Prime Minister Lester Bird, son of the late statesman. The senior Bird, regarded by many as the father of the Antigua and Barbuda nation, died on Monday, June 28, after a long illness. He was 89.

Conveying condolences to the people and government of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gaviria, who was speaking on behalf of the 34 OAS member states, paid tribute to the former leader as "a towering, influential and enduring figure on the Caribbean political stage." He went on to say that Vere Cornwall Bird had "brought his consummate wisdom and experience to benefit this inter-American system when he led his country to join the Organization of American States upon gaining independence in 1981."

Ambassador Thomas, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, said the elder statesman would be remembered "for his sterling contribution to the decolonization movement and the unrelenting quest for self-determination of the peoples, not only in the Caribbean but in other parts of the then British Colonial Empire" and for helping to forge regionalism in the Caribbean.

He was a stalwart of the Trade Union Movement and at the forefront of the establishment of the Antigua Trade and Labor Union back in 1939, recalled Thomas who also hailed Mr. Bird for the indelible mark he has left on the stewardship of his country.

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