NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham today offered his condolences to the nation of Barbados following the death of its longest serving prime minister, Owen Arthur.
Arthur, 70, died shortly after midnight today.
In a statement, Ingraham said he was saddened to learn of Arthur’s passing and recounted his experiences with his former CARICOM colleague.
“The Bahamas and Barbados have a common history as former British colonies with shared democratic traditions and common economic aspirations,” Ingraham said.
“Owen and I discovered that we held many views in common. That made our collaboration and cooperation on regional matters smooth – in tourism, financial services, health, education, and regional security.
The statement continued: “He was especially wedded to CARICOM and to regional integration, a front on which we sometimes agreed to disagree.”
Ingraham noted Arthur took office two years after his own 1992 win.
The pair became fast friends, meeting regularly at CARICOM and other regional heads of state meetings, he said.
“Owen was intellectually inquisitive, quick-witted, and an economic powerhouse with a terrific sense of humour,” Ingraham said.
Arthur attended Ingraham’s eldest daughter’s wedding, and the opening of Parliament in 1997.
In 2001, the pair traveled together to attend the third Summit of the Americas Conference in Quebec.
Ingraham said Arthur later joined other CARICOM leaders for a heads of government meeting in Nassau.
The then-Barbados prime minister also visited Grand Bahama, and attended an Independence celebration at Government House along with other leaders.
“And, I remember fondly, his travel with me to my constituency in North Abaco where we engaged in my favorite pastime – fishing Abaco’s waters and visiting several of its cays,” Ingraham said.
“At different times he visited Harbour Island, Long Island and Exuma. Later still, he visited our capital to speak on and promote regional integration and on other occasions, to view hurricane damages.”
Ingraham offered his condolences on behalf of his wife and entire family to Arthur’s wife Julie, their daughters Sabrina and Leah and his extended family.
He added: “Always a champion of Barbados, he also held a special affection for the English-speaking group of countries that made up CARICOM.
“He will long be remembered for the energy and leadership he lent to efforts to realise regional integration.”
“His was an important voice and he will be sadly missed.”