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Prominent Caribbean Academic, Dr. Norman Girvan, 72, Dies in Cuba

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By Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

Professor Norman Girvan, one of the Caribbean’s premier intellectuals, has died in Cuba where he was taken for treatment after he had become paralyzed as a result of a fall in Dominica.

Dr. Girvan, 72, the former Secretary-General of the Association of Caribbean States, fell while hiking in the Eastern Caribbean island. He was flown to Cuba because of excruciating back pain and the paralysis and was due to undergo surgery to ease the pain on his spine. But he died before the surgery could be performed, according the University of the West Indies where he had taught for decades.

“We were still hopeful that perhaps at some point he would have been strong enough to get the operation done and that would release the pressure on his spine,” said Professor Andy Knight, Director of the UWI’s Institute of International Relations. “From his neck down he was paralyzed and today we heard he passed away. We are very heavy hearted and felt Norman still had a lot to give to the region.”

A Jamaican, Prof. Girvan, served as professor of development studies and director of the UWI’s Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies. At one stage he headed Jamaica’s National Planning Agency. Four years ago he was appointed by the United Nations to be its representative on the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute panel.

Just last December, he co-signed a letter to the Caribbean Community warning of the negative impact of a decision by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court which virtually declared tens of thousands of Haitians who were born in the DR non-citizens simply because their roots were in Haiti.

Girvan is survived by his wife and two children. Funeral arrangements would be announced later.

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