The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has applauded Sir Lester Bird’s commitment to regional integration as it expressed deepest sympathies on the passing of the former Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister.
Sir Lester who led Antigua and Barbuda from 1994 to 2004 and also held Ministerial positions in earlier administrations, died in his homeland on 9 August 2021.
CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque expressed the Community’s appreciation for Sir Lester’s contribution in a message of condolence to Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda.
Here is the Secretary-General’s message:
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) expresses its deepest sympathies to the Government and People of Antigua and Barbuda on the death of their National Hero Sir Lester Bryant Bird.
Sir Lester’s contribution to the development of his country, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community was immense.
His vision was instrumental in building Antigua and Barbuda into one of the premier tourism destinations in the world. His efforts at diversification of the economy led to his country’s involvement in the financial services sector.
His commitment to regional integration ensured that Antigua and Barbuda was at the forefront of the establishment of the OECS and he became the first Chairman of the Organisation, despite not being Prime Minister at the time. This was an acknowledgement by all concerned of the contribution he had made to its establishment.
During his Chairmanship of CARICOM, the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), now the Office of Trade Negotiations was created to strengthen the negotiating capacity of all CARICOM countries at a time when the Region was involved in several trade negotiations simultaneously. It was also under Sir Lester’s Chairmanship in 1997 that the first Protocols leading to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas were signed, as well as the Charter of Civil Society.
Sir Lester was also an avid sportsman, representing his country and the Leeward Islands at cricket, but it was as a long jumper that he made his international mark, gaining a bronze medal at the 1959 Pan American Games while competing for the British West Indies. He was also selected for the only ever West Indies Team that participated in an Olympic Games which was held in Rome in 1960, but had to withdraw due to injury.
Sir Lester Bird was a man of many parts whose enduring commitment to his country and his Region redounded to their benefit. CARICOM salutes Sir Lester Bryant Bird.
The Community extends its condolences to the family of Sir Lester and to the Government and People of Antigua and Barbuda on the loss of this illustrious son of the soil.”