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  The Rt. Hon. Vere Cornwall Bird

 

The charismatic career of the Rt. Hon. Vere Cornwall Bird embodied a long tradition of outstanding and dedicated political leadership in Antigua and Barbuda, his country of birth. It was therefore fitting that he was nominated by his country and awarded the OCC at the third conferment in 1998. 

It was on behalf of the struggling working class in Antigua and Barbuda that he campaigned, sparking off a long and committed political career for the independence of his nation and well being of his peoples. His active involvement in the Antigua Trades and Labour Union resulted in better conditions of work and pay, the abolition of child labour and benefits for retired workers. 

The political transformation of Antigua and Barbuda through the introduction of universal adult suffrage, internal self-government and independence were engineered by Vere Bird who was appointed his country's first Chief Minister. In 1967, he became the Premier of Antigua and in 1981 the first Prime Minister of independent Antigua and Barbuda.

To his credit as political leader of Antigua and Barbuda are improvements in the education system, including free education, free medical service, revolutionising of the country's telecommunications infrastructure, and utilities. He fashioned the creation of his country's constitution in which was guaranteed human and civil rights for its citizens. 

A true and dedicated regionalist, Vere Bird has played an integral role in Caribbean unity from the period of Federation, through CARIFTA to CARICOM, and was one of the signatories to the CARIFTA Agreement in 1965. 

His record of achievements as political leader of Antigua and Barbuda and the integration movement has earned him "first claim to the title of Patron of the Movement for Caribbean integration, development and progress".

 
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