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It is with deep regret that I learnt of the death of the Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, KCMG, former Prime Minister of Grenada, last Saturday evening.

The late Sir Eric Gairy will long be remembered for the important role he played in raising the political consciousness of the Grenadian people and in instilling confidence in their capacity to effect change in the quality of their lives.

It was through Sir Eric=s charm and forthrightness that the Grenadian people were encouraged to develop a sense of self-respect within the prevailing political system. This sense of self-respect was integral to the start of the trade union movement in Grenada resulting in the formation of the Grenada Mental and Manual Workers Union (GMMWU), the first Union in Grenada’s history to organise plantation workers and poor peasants.

Another first was scored when Sir Eric established the Grenada People=s Party (GPP) in 1951, later renamed the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP). This development brought to the Grenadian political landscape for the first time a political mechanism capable of helping the Grenadian people realise the dream of being able to choose and vote for their own representatives. This was a victory for the people of Grenada and culminated in the first ever general elections under universal adult suffrage being held under his stewardship.

Sir Eric was among the early advocates of regionalism, and although he would be well remembered for leading Grenada to independence, he remained a committed regionalist. His death represents the passing of a generation of Caribbean leaders who had a vision of Caribbean integration. The Region mourns the loss of one of its staunchest supporters.

On behalf of the Caribbean Community and the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat, I wish to express our condolences to his family and to the Government and people of Grenada at this time of grief and national mourning.

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