Today, as we mourn the loss of our third Prime Minister and third President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the United National Congress St. Joseph Constituency Executive expresses its sincerest condolences to the family of ANR Robinson.
Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson was born 16 December 1926 in Calder Hall, Tobago to Isabellaand James A. Robinson. He was the first Bowles Scholar to Bishop’s High School, Tobago, in 1939, and later the first House Scholarship winner from Bishop’s High School in 1942. As candidate for Island scholarship from Bishop’s High School in 1944 and 1945, he obtained the Higher School Certificate in both years with Distinction in Latin. Continuing his studies in Tobago, Robinson gained admission to the Bachelor of Laws Degree of London University as an external student in 1949.
In 1951, he left for the United Kingdom and passed the Bar Final Examinations in 1953. That same year he was admitted to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he obtained a good Second-Class Honors Degree in two years in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He was admitted to practise as a Barrister-at-Law in Trinidad and Tobago in 1955 and was in the Chambers of Sir Courtney Hannays from 1957 to 1961.
Robinson was elected to the Federal Parliament of the defunct Caribbean Federation in 1958 and to the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament as a representative for Tobago in 1961. He served as the first Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago after Independence and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He founded the Action Committee of Democratic Citizens (ACDC) in 1970. In conjunction with the Democratic Labour Party, Robinson led the ill-fated “No-vote” campaign of 1971. This campaign protested the use of voting machines which the Opposition DLP considered to be used for election fraud in the 1961 and 1966 elections. Following the election, Robinson founded the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) which won the two Tobago seats in the 1976 and 1981 elections.
In 1981 Robinson joined forces with the United Labour Front (ULF) under the leadership of Basdeo Panday and the Tapia House Movement under the leadership of Lloyd Best to form the National Alliance. This group entered an Accommodation with the Organisation for National Reconstruction under the leadership of Karl Hudson-Phillips to fight (and win) the Local Government elections of 1983. Building on this victory the four parties combined to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) which won the 1986 elections by a margin of 33-3 and Robinson was appointed the first non-PNM Prime Minister.
Prior to the 1986 elections Robinson was instrumental in setting up the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and was its chairman from December 1980 to 16 December 1986. This local government entity was established in 1980 to strengthen the position of Tobago within the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago. His party, the DAC (and later the NAR), controlled the THA from 1980 until 2001, when the PNM gained control of the body.
During the 1990 coup d’état attempt by the Jamaat al Muslimeen the Prime Minister Robinson and much of his Cabinet were held hostage for six days by gunmen under the leadership of Yasin Abu Bakr. When instructed to order the army to stop firing on the Red House (the seat of Parliament where they were held hostage) Robinson instead instructed them to “Attack with full force”, an action that earned him a severe beating from his captors. He was also shot in his leg.
In 1989, during the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly, he proposed the creation of a permanent international court to deal with the transnational drug trade. This eventually led to the inauguration of the International Criminal Court in 2002, commissioned to hear cases of crimes against humanity. He has received many honours for this achievement.
In May 2011 for his great service to this country, the airport in Tobago was renamed the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport, replacing the name “Crown Point International Airport”.
In November 2011, A. N. R. Robinson was the recipient of Tobago’s highest award, the Tobago Medal of Honour.
He was an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council.
The impact left by this great man and his numerous contributions will forever be remembered, not only in the political fraternity, but throughout the country. As the Country mourns the passing of A.N.R. Robinson, we know that even though he is gone in body, his spirit and his legacy will live on.
May God bless and guide his loved ones through this difficult time and may his soul rest in eternal peace.
United National Congress
St. Joseph Executive