The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is mourning the loss of “one of its irreplaceable sons” Sir Alister Meredith McIntyre, OCC, who died Saturday at the age of 87.
Sir Alister served as the second Secretary-General of CARICOM from 1974 to 1977 and was awarded the Region’s highest honour, the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) in 1994 by the Conference of Heads of Government for his outstanding service to the Community.
“Whether it was as Secretary-General of CARICOM, Chief Technical Adviser of the CARICOM Regional Negotiating Machinery, member of the West Indian Commission appointed by CARICOM Heads of Government, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research and later Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Alister served this Region with exceptional skill and acumen,” a statement from CARICOM Secretary General Edwin LaRocque said.
“Sir Alister,” the statement continued, “was one of the remarkable group including William Demas, and Sir Shridath Ramphal which came together to make the transition from CARIFTA to CARICOM a reality. Along with Sir Shridath and Mr Demas, he was a leading member of the West Indian Commission which produced the seminal work on the integration movement ‘A Time for Action’. He devoted much of his published work to the regional integration movement.”
LaRocque further said: “His insight into the development challenges of small states and his determination to improve their situation were the hallmarks of his role as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and Assistant Secretary-General for International Economic Co-operation in the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General.
“Sir Alister never wavered in his belief in and commitment to the people of the Region. His was a life spent embedded in the Caribbean ethos. He enriched this Region with his scholarship, his intellect and his work ethic. The contribution of this son of Grenada to the development of the Caribbean is immeasurable.
“On behalf of the Caribbean Community, I extend deep condolences to his wife Marjorie and his children, his grand-children and his siblings. CARICOM too has lost a true titan. May he rest in peace.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, also paid tribute to Sir Alister, stating, “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.
“The love and respect we carry in our bosom for him will bloom a thousand blossoms. To him I say, “Farewell brother, mentor, friend, and leader. On behalf of your cherished UWI and the regional academy you guided and grew, go well into that bright light,” he added.
The Grenadian born, Sir Alister served as Vice Chancellor emeritus of the UWI. An economist by training, he graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with first class honours.
“In his early career he was a lecturer in economics at the St. Augustine campus of the UWI in Trinidad and Tobago, and at the Mona Campus in Jamaica, which has a building bearing his name.
He served as Vice Chancellor of UWI from 1988 to 1998 and in 1974 he was appointed Secretary-General of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
He also served as a Director at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and later in the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. After his retirement from the UWI in 1998, he was appointed Chief Technical Advisor at the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, playing an important role during crucial negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in other trade negotiating fora.
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.
“He had devoted his life to Caribbean unity and was already, as he went, worrying over the darkening of the regional scene that threatens. The Region’s debt to Alister is payable only in a new enlightenment that makes Caribbean oneness the reality for which he lived,” said Sir Shridath, the former chairman of the West Indian Commission of which Sir Alister was a member.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said she was “deeply saddened” at the death of Sir Alister describing him as “a respected economist, educator, administrator and true champion of regional integration.
“This son of Grenada and son of the Caribbean will forever be remembered fondly as one of the Titans of the post Independence Caribbean to whom we owe much.
“The region and the wider hemisphere benefited immensely from the depth of thought and analysis that this former economics lecturer, Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the UWI (since renamed in honour of Sir Arthur Lewis), Secretary General of CARICOM, Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD, and Assistant Secretary General in the Office of the Director General for International Economic Cooperation at the United Nations brought to the affairs of the people of the Caribbean and the world,” she added.
Jamaica opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips said 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.”
He said the Grenadian was “the quintessential Caribbean man who believed in the potential of the people of the region and was committed to their advancement through education, integration and economic independence.
“His outstanding contribution in the role of Secretary General of CARICOM and in the various positions he held in a number of United Nations agencies cannot be overstated. Sir Alister will truly be missed,” he added.
Sir Alister, who received the Order of the Caribbean Community, the Order of Merit from Jamaica, Guyana’s Cacique Crown of Honour and the Chancellor’s 50th Anniversary Award, among many awards, is survived by his wife, Marjorie, children Arnold, Andrew, Helga and Nicholas. – (CARICOM SECRETARIAT / CMC)