Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell, former Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines died on November 23, 2021.
The former Vincentian Prime Minister, 90 years old, died in his hometown of Bequia, surrounded by family members.
Mitchell, who governed the Eastern Caribbean island from 1984 to 2000, fell ill on October 31 and was rushed from Bequia to mainland St. Vincent for urgent medical care.
Sir James was treated for an infection upon hospitalisation at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and was battling multiple medical conditions, including gallstones, kidney failure, and an enlarged prostate. He was later diagnosed with dengue fever.
The 90-year-old former leader was flown to Barbados for advanced medical treatment on Wednesday, November 3, and later that evening, pneumonia was added to the list of medical complications Sir James was already battling.
On Thursday, November 4, Mitchell’s son-in-law, Dwight “bing” Joseph, said that the former prime minister was in stable condition. However, by Friday, November 5, Joseph indicated to this publication that Sir James was requesting a famous song by Madonna, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”
Joseph told the publication on November 8 that Sir James was still in the ICU and was joined by his four daughters and other family members.
On November 18, Sir James was discharged from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and placed on 24-hour nursing care at home. Sir James, in the latter part of his life, became a champion for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.
Early life and education
James Fitz-Allen Mitchell was born on May 15, 1931, on the island of Bequia in the Grenadines. At age 9, tragedy struck his family when his father, a sea captain, disappeared aboard the vessel “Gloria Colita” in the Bermuda Triangle. Sir James received his secondary education at St. Vincent’s Grammar School, following which he pursued studies at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad, and the University of British Columbia, Canada.
The Rt. Hon. Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell, a Privy Councillor since 1985, is an economist, agronomist, and politician who has been a dominant figure in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for almost three decades.
Sir James was first elected to parliament in 1966 as the St. Vincent Labour Party’s representative for the Grenadines. He was re-elected the following year. In 1972, he successfully ran in the general elections as an independent candidate. With the election ending in a 6-6 tie between the SVLP (St. Vincent Labour Party) and the PPP (People’s Political Party), Sir James, an independent candidate, struck a deal with the PPP’s leader, E.T. Joshua, and became premier under the Alliance government. Two years later, the SVLP regained power when they won ten seats at the general elections.
In December 1975, Sir James founded the New Democratic Party (NDP). He was an opposition Member of Parliament from 1975 until 1984, when he led his party to a 10-3 victory over the SVLP.
Sir James, at age 53, became his country’s second Prime Minister in July 1984. Four years later, Sir James’ party made history when it swept all 15 parliamentary seats in the General Election.
In 1984, his party returned to power for a third consecutive term when it won 12 of the House’s 15 seats. One of the longest-serving prime ministers in Caribbean history, Mitchell was also a foreign minister from 1984 until 1992. He retired voluntarily as prime minister in 2000.
Notwithstanding his public duties, he has found the time to write and has published articles and books on agriculture, including studies on fungicide usage and land reform, as well as on the problems of Caribbean society.
Sir James’s autobiography, Beyond the Islands, was published by MacMillan Caribbean in 2006. Sir James was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.
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