Ex-Grenada PM George Brizan passes at 69

Former Grenada Prime Minister George Brizan.
Photo courtesy government of Grenada
Photo courtesy government of Grenada

Former Grenada Prime Minister George Brizan, a co-founder of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC), died on Feb. 18 at the General Hospital in St. George’s, the Grenada capital, following a prolonged illness. He was 69.

Brizan, an economist and educator in training, was the “Spice Isle’s” sixth prime minister since independence, serving for four months in 1995 on the resignation of Nicholas Brathwaite.

His party was defeated by Dr. Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP), a successor to another party Brizan formed, the National Democratic Party (NDP).

In 1987, Brizan and former Attorney General Francis Alexis founded the NDC, now led by Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, who returned the party to government in 2008 after 13 years in opposition.

Brizan served in the 1990-1995 Brathwaite administration as finance minister and later agriculture minister. He was also minister for trade, industry, production and energy.

In addition, he was a consultant to successive Grenadian governments on economic affairs since the late 1960s, including that of his successor, Prime Minister Mitchell.

Born George Ignatius Brizan, on Oct. 31, 1942, in the southeastern parish of St. David’s, he was educated at Catholic schools, St. Dominic’s Primary and Presentation Brothers College.

He was trained at the Grenada Teacher’s College, where he earned a certificate in Education from the University of the West Indies before pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies in Canada.

A prolific writer and speaker on Grenadian history, Brizan wrote “Grenada: Island of Conflict”, published by Macmillan Caribbean in 1998 and considered a seminal work on a turbulent island’s past, from the 17th Century European settlement to the 1983 coup and invasion.

He also wrote “Brave Young Grenadians: Loyal British Subjects”, on the island’s role in the two world wars, and an architectural study, “St George’s: Prettiest Town in the West Indies”.

“I remember him as a friend and statesman, a man committed to his family,” said Prime Minister Thomas in a statement in Canada, on the night of Feb. 18, where he joined nationals there in celebrating Grenada’s 38th independence anniversary.

He said said Brizan’s was a “patriotic Grenadian whose love for country was exceptional.

“Although afflicted by sickness, he still found opportunities to contribute to discussions on national development. He kept himself informed about the activities of those he loved,” Thomas added.

“Grenada has lost a great stalwart, who gave selflessly as a teacher, author, politician, historian, minister of government and prime minister,” Thomas continued.

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