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Lester Bird

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Sir Lester Bird
Former Prime Minister Honourable Lester B. Bird speak to the audience (cropped).jpg
2nd Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
In office
9 March 1994 – 24 August 2004
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralJames Carlisle
Preceded byVere Bird
Succeeded byBaldwin Spencer
Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
In office
1991–1991
Prime MinisterVere Bird
Preceded byJohn Eugene St. Luce
Succeeded byMolwyn Joseph
Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
In office
2001–2003
Prime Ministerhimself
Preceded byJohn Eugene St. Luce
Succeeded byRobin Yearwood
Personal details
Born(1938-02-21)21 February 1938
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died9 August 2021(2021-08-09) (aged 83)
Hodges Bay, Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda[1]
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Sports career
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  British West Indies (BWI)
Pan American Games
Bronze medal – third place 1959 Chicago Long jump

Sir Lester Bryant Bird KNH (21 February 1938 – 9 August 2021) was an Antigua and Barbuda politician and athlete who served as the second prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 1994 to 2004. He was chairman of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) from 1971 to 1983, then became prime minister when his father, Sir Vere Bird, the previous prime minister, resigned.

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Early life and education

Bird was born in New York City on 21 February 1938.[2] Lester and his elder brother Vere Bird Jr., also a British-educated lawyer, were considered sometime rivals, with The New York Times writing in 1990 that Lester had always overshadowed his brother, according to those who have known them both.[3][4] He was educated at Antigua Grammar School and was brought up as a Methodist. Bird was a cricketer in his youth, playing for the Leeward Islands, and a long jump champion. He won a bronze medal in the long jump at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago while representing the British West Indies. He attended the University of Michigan, where he was All-American long jumper in 1960 and graduated in 1962.[3][4] Bird completed his study of law in Britain and was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1969. From 1969 to 1976, Bird engaged in private practice in Antigua.[2]

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New York City

New York City

New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over 300.46 square miles (778.2 km2), New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States, and is more than twice as populous as second-place Los Angeles. New York City lies at the southern tip of New York State, and constitutes the geographical and demographic center of both the Northeast megalopolis and the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the United States both by population and by urban landmass. With over 20.1 million people in its metropolitan statistical area and 23.5 million in its combined statistical area as of 2020, New York is one of the world's most populous megacities, and over 58 million people live within 250 mi (400 km) of the city. New York City is a global cultural, financial, entertainment, and media center with a significant influence on commerce, health care and life sciences, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, dining, art, fashion, and sports. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy, and is sometimes described as the capital of the world.

Vere Bird Jr.

Vere Bird Jr.

Vere Bird Jr. was an Antiguan lawyer and politician who served as chairman of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) and a government minister. He was the son of Vere Bird, the former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and brother of Lester Bird, who later held the same position.

The New York Times

The New York Times

The New York Times is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2022 to comprise 740,000 paid print subscribers, and 8.6 million paid digital subscribers. It also is a producer of popular podcasts such as The Daily. Founded in 1851, it is published by The New York Times Company. The Times has won 132 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any newspaper, and has long been regarded as a national "newspaper of record". For print, it is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the United States.

Methodism

Methodism

Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity whose origins, doctrine and practice derive from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. They were named Methodists for "the methodical way in which they carried out their Christian faith". Methodism originated as a revival movement within the 18th century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

Cricket

Cricket

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 22-yard (20-metre) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at one of the wickets with the bat and then running between the wickets, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each batter. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side either catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground, or hitting a wicket with the ball before a batter can cross the crease in front of the wicket. When ten batters have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.

Leeward Islands

Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands are a group of islands situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. Starting with the Virgin Islands east of Puerto Rico, they extend southeast to Guadeloupe and its dependencies. In English, the term Leeward Islands refers to the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. The more southerly part of this chain, starting with Dominica, is called the Windward Islands. Dominica was originally considered a part of the Leeward Islands, but was transferred from the British Leeward Islands to the British Windward Islands in 1940.

Long jump

Long jump

The long jump is a track and field event in which athletes combine speed, strength and agility in an attempt to leap as far as possible from a takeoff point. Along with the triple jump, the two events that measure jumping for distance as a group are referred to as the "horizontal jumps". This event has a history in the ancient Olympic Games and has been a modern Olympic event for men since the first Olympics in 1896 and for women since 1948.

1959 Pan American Games

1959 Pan American Games

The 1959 Pan American Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, United States between August 28 and September 7, 1959.

Chicago

Chicago

Chicago is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous in the United States after New York City and Los Angeles. With a population of 2,746,388 in the 2020 census, it is also the most populous city in the Midwest. As the seat of Cook County, the city is the center of the Chicago metropolitan area, one of the largest in the world.

West Indies Federation

West Indies Federation

The West Indies Federation, also known as the West Indies, the Federation of the West Indies or the West Indian Federation, was a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and those on the Leeward and Windward Islands, came together to form the Federation, with its capital in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The expressed intention of the Federation was to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state—possibly similar to the Canadian Confederation, Australian Commonwealth, or Central African Federation. Before that could happen, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflicts over how it would be governed or function viably. The formation of a West Indian Federation was encouraged by the United Kingdom, but also requested by West Indian nationalists.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 1817 by an act of the old Michigan Territory as the Catholepistemiad or the "School of Universal Knowledge," the university is the oldest in Michigan; it was established 20 years before the territory became a state. The institution was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus, a U.S. historic district. The university has been governed by an elected board of regents independently of the state since 1850, when the state's second constitution was officially adopted. The University of Michigan is ranked among the most prestigious universities in the United States and in the world.

Gray's Inn

Gray's Inn

The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the bar in order to practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road in Central London, the Inn is a professional body and provides office and some residential accommodation for barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "Pension," made up of the Masters of the Bench and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The Inn is known for its gardens which have existed since at least 1597.

Political career

Bird's political career began in 1971, when he was nominated to the Senate. The frequently-dominant Antigua Labour Party was in opposition for a five-year period. Bird was named chairman of the ALP and the leader of the opposition in the Senate. Lester continued to serve as leader of the opposition until he was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1976 elections, when the ALP returned to power.[2] Bird joined his father's government as Deputy Prime Minister. In addition to serving as Deputy Prime Minister, Bird also served as Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, and Energy. Bird's tenure as Minister of Tourism and Minister of Economic Development was controversial, and he personally benefited from tourism partnerships with foreign investors, including in the construction of the Royal Antiguan Hotel.[5]

Following independence in 1981, Bird gained the external affairs portfolio and was the first chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in 1982. He was chairman of OECS for a second time in 1989.[2] The ALP government and Bird himself won re-election in 1994 and 1999. These elections, as well as the 1989 elections, were highly controversial; the 1989 elections were "marred by irregularities and fraud" and charges made by the opposition, described as credible by Freedom House, that the ALP used bribery and intimidation and exerted undue influence over the elections supervisor.[6] The 1999 election was deemed neither free nor fair in an independent report which concluded that the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) "conceivably could have won a majority of seats in parliament" if the election had been fair.[7]

The ALP had been divided by a succession crisis between Lester Bird and Vere Bird, Jr., since 1989. Lester Bird lost his deputy prime minister post in 1991, but retained the external affairs ministry and the planning and trade portfolio. Sir Vere Bird was initially thought to have favoured Vere Jr. until an arms scandal in which the elder son had been found to have been involved in the smuggling of weapons from Antigua to the Colombian Medellín Cartel.[2][3][6] Vere Bird, Jr., then Minister of Public Works, was dismissed from office and an inquiry, led by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, Q.C., recommended that he never be allowed to hold office again (although he subsequently did return to office), boosting Lester Bird's chances to follow his father in the prime ministership and reducing pressure for Vere Bird to step down.[2][3][6]

In 1992, another scandal, involving Sir Vere Bird's siphoning of public funds into a personal account, furthered calls for him to step down, with three opposition parties uniting to form the UPP under the leadership of Baldwin Spencer. Following a successful general strike called by the UPP, Sir Vere announced in March 1992 he would step down at the 1994 general elections.[2][6] The ALP succession crisis continued following this, with a special convention to elect a successor on 24 May 1992 resulting in a deadlock between Lester Bird and John St. Luce, the information minister. The ALP leadership question was finally settled at the party's September 1993 convention, at which Lester won the leadership of the party, defeating St Luce, 169 votes to 131. The party post of ALP chairman went to Vere Jr.[2][6]

In the March 1994 elections, the ALP under Bird's leadership won 11 out of 17 seats even as the opposition criticized the ALP over corruption issues. During the election the ALP pledged open government, an ombudsman to deal with citizen complaints, and new jobs, especially in tourism. Bird assumed the prime ministership on 9 March 1994.[2] He appointed St. Luce (but not his brother Vere Jr.) to the cabinet. (Vere Jr. was subsequently named special adviser). Lester Bird took the portfolios for external affairs, planning, social services, and information for himself, and in a 1996 cabinet reshuffle also took the communications, civil aviation, international transport, and gaming portfolios.[2]

In the 1999 elections, the ALP increased its parliamentary majority by one seat, holding 12 seats. Bird was reconfirmed as prime minister and elevated Vere Jr. to the cabinet as minister of agriculture, marking his full political rehabilitation. Bird also shuffled his own portfolios and by December 2002 held the foreign affairs, finance, legal affairs, justice, and national security ministries in addition to being the prime minister.[2]

In the March 2004 election, the ALP was defeated by the United Progressive Party (UPP) led by Baldwin Spencer.[8] Bird's party lost eight seats, and he himself was defeated by Errol Cort, who became Minister of Finance in the new UPP government.[9]

Bird remained the ALP's political leader following the party's 2004 defeat. He led the party in the March 2009 election; although the ALP lost the election, it gained 3 seats from the UPP and Bird defeated Cort by 96 votes in the St John's Rural East constituency, where he had lost in 2004. He subsequently held the position of Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.[10][11]

Bird was succeeded as ALP leader by Gaston Browne in 2012, who led the party to victory in June 2014 general election. Bird won a seat and again defeated Errol Cort.[12]

In 2014, he was made a Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KNH) by Antigua and Barbuda.[13]

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Freedom House

Freedom House

Freedom House is a non-profit, majority U.S. government funded organization in Washington, D.C., that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons.

Colombia

Colombia

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Venezuela to the east and northeast, Brazil to the southeast, Ecuador and Peru to the south and southwest, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Panama to the northwest. Colombia is divided into 32 departments and the Capital District of Bogotá, the country's largest city. It covers an area of 1,141,748 square kilometers, and has a population of 52 million. Colombia's cultural heritage—including language, religion, cuisine, and art—reflects its history as a Spanish colony, fusing cultural elements brought by immigration from Europe and the Middle East, with those brought by enslaved Africans, as well as with those of the various Indigenous civilizations that predate colonization. Spanish is the official state language, although English and 64 other languages are recognized regional languages.

Medellín Cartel

Medellín Cartel

The Medellín Cartel was a powerful and highly organized Colombian drug cartel and terrorist organization originating in the city of Medellín, Colombia that was founded and led by Pablo Escobar. It is often considered the first major "drug cartel" and was referred to as such due to the organization's upper echelons being built on a partnership between multiple Colombian traffickers operating alongside Escobar. Included were Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez, Juan David Ochoa Vásquez, José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha and Carlos Lehder. The cartel operated from 1967 to 1993 in Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Central America, Peru, the United States, as well as in Canada. Although the organization started out as a smuggling network in the late 1960s, it wasn't until 1976 that the organization turned to trafficking cocaine. At the height of its operations, the Medellín Cartel smuggled multiple tons of cocaine each week into countries around the world and brought in up to US$60 million daily in drug profits.

Louis Blom-Cooper

Louis Blom-Cooper

Sir Louis Jacques Blom-Cooper was an English author and lawyer specialising in public and administrative law.

Baldwin Spencer (politician)

Baldwin Spencer (politician)

Winston Baldwin Spencer is an Antiguan politician who was the third Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda from 2004 to 2014.

General strike

General strike

A general strike refers to a strike action in which participants cease all economic activity, such as working, to strengthen the bargaining position of a trade union or achieve a common social or political goal. They are organised by large coalitions of political, social, and labour organizations and may also include rallies, marches, boycotts, civil disobedience, non-payment of taxes, and other forms of direct or indirect action. Additionally, general strikes might exclude care workers, such as teachers, doctors, and nurses.

John St. Luce

John St. Luce

Sir John Eugene St. Luce, KGCN,, is an Antiguan politician from the Antigua Labour Party (ALP). He attended the University of London and majored in economics and social sciences. In 1971, he was appointed to the Senate. In 1976, he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was subsequently re-elected until his retirement from active politics in 2004. He held several portfolios in the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda: Minister of Agriculture, Home Affairs, Health, Public Works, Public Utilities and Communications and Finance. He lost to Lester Bird when there was a vote for successor of Vere Bird as the chairman of the ALP.

Information minister

Information minister

An information minister is a position in the governments of some countries responsible for dealing with information matters; it is often linked with censorship and propaganda. Sometimes the position is given to a separate Minister of Culture.

Open government

Open government

Open government is the governing doctrine which maintains that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. In its broadest construction, it opposes reason of state and other considerations which have tended to legitimize extensive state secrecy. The origins of open-government arguments can be dated to the time of the European Age of Enlightenment, when philosophers debated the proper construction of a then nascent democratic society. It is also increasingly being associated with the concept of democratic reform. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 for example advocates for public access to information as a criterion for ensuring accountable and inclusive institutions.

Ombudsman

Ombudsman

An ombudsman, ombud, ombuds, ombudswoman, ombudsperson or public advocate is an official who is usually appointed by the government or by parliament to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations or mediation.

Economy of Antigua and Barbuda

Economy of Antigua and Barbuda

The economy of Antigua and Barbuda is service-based, with tourism and government services representing the key sources of employment and income. Tourism accounts directly or indirectly for more than half of GDP and is also the principal earner of foreign exchange in Antigua and Barbuda. However, a series of violent hurricanes since 1995 resulted in serious damage to tourist infrastructure and periods of sharp reductions in visitor numbers. In 1999 the budding offshore financial sector was seriously hurt by financial sanctions imposed by the United States and United Kingdom as a result of the loosening of its money-laundering controls. The government has made efforts to comply with international demands in order to get the sanctions lifted. The dual island nation's agricultural production is mainly directed to the domestic market; the sector is constrained by the limited water supply and labor shortages that reflect the pull of higher wages in tourism and construction. Manufacturing comprises enclave-type assembly for export with major products being bedding, handicrafts, and electronic components. Prospects for economic growth in the medium term will continue to depend on income growth in the industrialized world, especially in the US, which accounts for about one-third of all tourist arrivals. Estimated overall economic growth for 2000 was 2.5%. Inflation has trended down going from above 2 percent in the 1995-99 period and estimated at 0 percent in 2000.

Social services

Social services

Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged. They may be provided by individuals, private and independent organisations, or administered by a government agency. Social services are connected with the concept of welfare and the welfare state, as countries with large welfare programs often provide a wide range of social services. Social services are employed to address the wide range of needs of a society. Prior to industrialisation, the provision of social services was largely confined to private organisations and charities, with the extent of its coverage also limited. Social services are now generally regarded globally as a 'necessary function' of society and a mechanism through which governments may address societal issues.

Death

Bird died at the age of 83 on 9 August 2021.[14][15]

Source: "Lester Bird", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Bird.

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References
  1. ^ "OneDrive".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Roger East and Richard Thomas, "Profiles of people in power: the world's government leaders" (2003). Psychology Press, pp. 16-17.
  3. ^ a b c d Howard W. French, "Island's Hushed Scandals, Unhushed", The New York Times, 16 June 1990.
  4. ^ a b Robert Glass, "Caribbean Island Focus of International Arms Scandal", Associated Press, 14 May 1990.
  5. ^ Carolyn L. Cartier and Alan A. Lew, Seductions of place: geographical perspectives on globalization and touristed landscapes (2005). Psychology Press: p. 229.
  6. ^ a b c d e Freedom House, Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties, 1993–1994 (1994). University Press of America, pp. 117–119.
  7. ^ "The Failings of Governance in Antigua & Barbuda: The Elections of 1999", 1 June 1999.
  8. ^ "Antigua and Barbuda General Election Results 2004". www.caribbeanelections.com. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Caribbean Elections Biography | Errol Cort". caribbeanelections.com. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Caribbean Elections | Antigua and Barbuda Elections 2009". Archived from the original on 25 November 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
  11. ^ "Different parties similar woes - Reviewing the political affairs of 2007", Antigua Sun, 28 December 2007.
  12. ^ Jacqueline Charles, "Browne becomes new prime minister of Antigua, youngest ever", Miami Herald, 13 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Sir Lester Bird receives A&B's highest national honour". The Daily Observer. 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Former Antigua, Barbuda PM Sir Lester Bird dies at 83". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Former Antigua and Barbuda PM Sir Lester Bird dies". Trinidad and Tobago Guardian. 9 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda
9 March 1994 –24 March 2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Position created
Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1981–1991
Succeeded by
Preceded by Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1991
Succeeded by
Preceded by Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
1991–2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by Finance Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
2001-2003
Succeeded by

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