Sir John Melvin Compton, OCC Awardee of 2002, is a Vincentian
by birth but sculpted his reputation and legacy as political
leader extraordinaire out of the throes of Saint Lucia's development.
Sir John Compton's political evolution from Chief Minister,
Premier and Prime Minister of Saint Lucia symbolises the interconnectedness
of the comity of Caribbean nations and the benefits of free
inter territorial movement.
Like so many of his political cohorts, Sir John's political
career built on a solid base in the legal profession having
studied law and being called to the Bar in England. His entry
into politics formally was as a member of the Saint Lucia Labour
In 1954, he became a member of the Legislative Council and an
avid and vocal champion of the cause of the impoverished working
class, particularly sugar plantation labour. His political reputation
emerged as an anti-colonialist.
Disillusioned over the outcome of efforts to secure the promise of a
better life for workers under the Labour Party, Sir John Compton disconnected
and formed a new political alliance, the United Workers' Party under
whose banner he campaigned and won the 1964 elections to become Saint
Lucia's Chief Minister.
From this point, he progressed to the position of Premier and finally
Prime Minister. He was perceived as the liberator of his nation, propelling
it into modernity with major reconstruction of its social and economic
Modernisation of Saint Lucia's utilities, reform of the social sector
and a radical programme for rural development, were the hallmarks of
his political career.
Sir John's deep and unswerving commitment to regional unity was a constant
of his tenure on the Region's political stage. He was a pillar of the
regional integration movement and participated in many of the institutions
that gave birth to and shaped the current form of the Caribbean Community.
His enthusiasm for a system of regional unity was evident by his support
for and involvement in the West Indies Federation and the creation of
the Caribbean Free Trade Areas (CARIFTA).
Sir John's legacy to the Region's development is marked by the role
he played in the establishment of key Caribbean institutions, including
CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the West Indies Association
States Council of Ministers (WISA), the Eastern Caribbean Common Market
(ECCM), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The citation for his OCC Award says of him "To his regional colleagues
and senior technocrats, he had become the quintessential Caribbean man;
ready to dependably support any feasible initiative towards deepening
or widening the Caribbean integration movement."