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James Fitz-Allen Mitchell

Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell
Sir James Mitchell SVG.png
2nd Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
In office
30 July 1984 – 27 October 2000
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor GeneralSir Sydney Gun-Munro
Sir Joseph Lambert Eustace
Sir David Emmanuel Jack
Charles Antrobus
Preceded byMilton Cato
Succeeded byArnhim Eustace
2nd Premier of Saint Vincent
In office
14 April 1972 – 8 December 1974
GovernorRupert Godfrey John
Preceded byMilton Cato
Succeeded byMilton Cato
Leader of the New Democratic Party
In office
3 December 1975 – 27 October 2000
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byArnhim Eustace
Personal details
Born(1931-05-15)15 May 1931
Bequia, Saint Vincent, British Windward Islands (now Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
Died23 November 2021(2021-11-23) (aged 90)
Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Political partyNew Democratic Party
Alma mater

Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell KCMG PC (15 May 1931 – 23 November 2021) was a Vincentian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from 1984 to 2000 and as Premier of Saint Vincent from 1972 to 1974. He founded the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1975, and served as its president until 2000.

Life and career

Mitchell was born in Bequia on 15 May 1931. He was educated at St. Vincent Grammar School. He continued his university education at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago and at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1955. After graduation, Mitchell worked in the Ministry of Overseas Development in London, then returned to Saint Vincent as an agricultural research officer for the government.

Mitchell initially entered politics in 1966 by winning a legislative seat as a candidate of the Saint Vincent Labour Party. He was the Minister of Agriculture from 1967 to 1972. After serving as premier from 1972 to 1974, he founded the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1975, becoming the main Parliamentary Opposition until the NDP's victory in the 1984 elections. Mitchell became Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs in July 1984 and was re-elected for a fourth successive term when his Party scored an 8–7 victory in the 1998 parliamentary elections.

Mitchell retired as Prime Minister and NDP President in 2000 but stayed on as Senior Minister until 2001. Mitchell was also foreign minister from 1984 until 1992 and a Privy Councillor beginning in 1985. He served as the Chairman of the OECS Authority in 1988, 1995, and 1996; at the 1995 meeting, Mitchell advocated for the inclusion of Barbados.

Mitchell led the Commonwealth observer team at the election in Lesotho in 2002.

Mitchell was a member of the InterAction Council.

Political positions

Mitchell endorsed the Grenadines becoming a separate nation from St. Vincent: in a 1984 election campaign speech, he opined that the incumbent government was continuing the colonial policy of favouring St. Vincent. He also supported greater political integration of Caribbean countries. In 1987, at the eighth conference of heads of government in the Caribbean Community, he stated, "As I see it, we must have one flag, one anthem and freedom of movement of people, services and capital."

Role as agronomist

During his time as prime minister, Mitchell co-founded the Caribbean Agricultural Regional Development Institute (CARDI).

In his opening address at the 1st Caribbean Agricultural Technology Conference (CATC) held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2000, Mitchell emphasized that "agriculture must thrive" and overcome regional challenges. Using the regional banana industry as an example, he pointed out that disruptions would affect not only farmers, but also related sectors such as transportation. To aid the industry, Mitchell outlined his government's policies to promote crop diversification as well as land redistribution to increase production.

Mitchell wrote on a variety of issues in agriculture and Caribbean society, included the topics of fungicide usage and land reform. His autobiography Beyond the Islands was published by Macmillan Caribbean in 2006.

Illness, death and tributes

On 31 October 2021, Mitchell was admitted to Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in Saint Vincent due to multiple illnesses, including gallstone, kidney failure and an enlarged prostate. He was later diagnosed with dengue fever. He was then flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Bridgetown in Barbados for advanced medical treatment on 3 November 2021, and was additionally diagnosed with pneumonia.

On 18 November 2021, he was transferred to Port Elizabeth Hospital in Bequia. He died there five days later, on 23 November, at the age of 90. Mitchell was the last living parliamentarian to have served before independence in 1979. The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines announced three days of national mourning through 25 November, with flags flown at half-mast. A state funeral will be held at a later date.

The OECS flag was flown at half-mast, while CARICOM and other regional leaders paid tributes to Mitchell. Sir Kennedy Simmonds, former Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, recollected their collaborations for Caribbean integration.

This page was last updated at 2021-11-25 15:11 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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