The Diaspora and the world continues to mourn the passing of one the Caribbean’s political stalwarts – Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning, former Prime Minister of the oil rich twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Manning, a geologist, who was one of the longest serving parliamentarians in the Caribbean, died at the San Fernando General Hospital on July 2, less than 24 hours after he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
As Prime Minister from 1991 to 1995 and again from 2001 to 2010, Manning led the country through a boom in its petrochemical industry, however this was not enough to prevent him from being defeated at the polls against a background of rising crime and reported corruption.
Current TNT Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said Manning’s death “represents a tremendous loss not only to the propel of Trinidad and Tobago but also to the (Caribbean) Community and the entire Caribbean region … he will be remembered as a visionary, a patriot and a Caribbean man who was committed to excellence and to the Caribbean Community. In this vein, I know that I will continue his legacy.”
The sentiments have also been echoed by members of the Caribbean American community in South Florida. “Despite any political preferences it is sad that the country has lost one of its prime ministers who was responsible for the advancement of the nation since independence in 1962. We must always pay tribute to our leaders, irrespective of our political leanings,” said Coconut Creek Trinidadian businessman Wayne Mendes.
Trinidadian law student at the University of Miami, Bridgette Morais, also mourned Manning’s passing. She said, “Patrick Manning’s long illness and now his sudden death, is a Caribbean tragedy. He still had a lot to offer to the country and it’s sad to lose him just at age 69, when candidates of similar age are currently seeking the presidency in the United States.”
Manning, entered the political arena in 1971, under the leadership of the late Eric Williams, who was the country’s first Prime Minister and founder of the People’s National Movement (PNM). Manning assumed leadership of the PNM in 1986. He will be remembered as the PNM’s leader who survived the crushing 33-3 seat outcome of a general election when the National Alliance for Reconstruction – an amalgam of political parties defeated the PNM after 30 years of unbroken rule in 1986.
He will also go down in history for calling two general elections ahead of the constitutional deadline, including the 2010 poll that brought the People’s Partnership government headed by former Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to office.
Manning was one of TNT’s longest serving member of parliament, having represented the San Fernando East constituency for 44 years. Although he suffered a stroke in 2012, he still expressed interest in contesting the September 2015 general elections, but announced his retirement from politics in January that year.
A State Funeral for the former prime minister will be held on Saturday, July 9 at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in Port of Spain. Local leaders and leaders from the Caribbean community are expected to attend the funeral.
Patrick Manning is survived by his widow Hazel, a former Education minister, and two sons.