With the death of former Prime Minister Hugh Shearer yesterday, the Caribbean nation of Jamaica and indeed the Hemisphere and the world at large have lost a great son, Secretary General César Gaviria of the Organization of American States (OAS) said today. Mr. Shearer, who served as prime minister from 1967 to 1972, died Monday at home in Kingston, after a long illness. He was 81.
On learning of the death the OAS Secretary General, speaking from St. Georges’, Grenada, where he is attending the 25th Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), recalled the invaluable contribution the former leader had made to the Hemisphere. “As Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, Mr. Shearer ushered his then young Caribbean nation into the OAS on June 27, 1969, thus commencing Jamaica’s active and well-respected participation in hemispheric affairs,” Gaviria noted.
“As a stalwart labor leader, Hugh Lawson Shearer was truly an inspiration to his compatriots in their quest for social justice and development, and he assumed the reins of national leadership in 1967 to usher his country into a period of remarkable economic growth, just a few short years into independence,” Mr. Gaviria stated as he joined Jamaicans and world figures in eulogizing Shearer, who also had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade throughout the 1980s.
The Secretary General noted the consensus among leaders of all political stripes that Hugh Shearer was a rare politician and a man of consummate decency. “This will certainly stand as a lasting tribute to the man and his indelible mark on the Jamaican society.”
Gaviria went on to state: “The inter-American community joins with Mr. Shearer’s family and the people of Jamaica during this official period of mourning, in remembering and paying tribute to this giant of a statesman, labor leader and national icon. To his wife and family we convey our heartfelt sympathies, support and prayers during this most difficult time.”