Gaston Browne

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Gaston Browne
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - 2018 (40666408505) (cropped).jpg
4th Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
Assumed office
13 June 2014
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralLouise Lake-Tack
Rodney Williams
Preceded byBaldwin Spencer
Chairman of the Caribbean Community
In office
1 July 2021[1] – 31 December 2021[1]
Secretary-GeneralIrwin LaRocque
Carla Barnett
Preceded byKeith Rowley
Succeeded byJohnny Briceño
Member of Parliament
for St. John's City West
Assumed office
9 March 1999
Preceded byDonald Halstead
Personal details
Born
Gaston Alfonso Browne

(1967-02-09) 9 February 1967 (age 55)
Villa, Colony of Antigua and Barbuda
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)Maria Bird-Browne
EducationCity Banking College
University of Manchester

Gaston Alfonso Browne (born 9 February 1967) is the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda. He has been its leader since 2014. Before entering politics, he was a banker and businessman.

Early life[edit]

Browne was born on 9 February 1967, days before the Associated State of Antigua was established, in Villa area on the twin island of Antigua and Barbuda.[2][3] His life as a teenager was extremely tough. As a child, he lived in Point with his paternal great-grandmother, who was in her eighties, at the time, partially blind, poor and aging. After her passing, he later grew up in Point, another impoverished area.[2]

Education[edit]

After completing his secondary education, Gaston attended the City Banking College in the United Kingdom, where he graduated with a BSc in banking and finance. Later, he attended University of Manchester, acquiring an MBA in Finance.[4][5][6]

Career[edit]

Following graduation, Browne secured a position with the Swiss American Banking Group, a major banking consortium in Antigua and Barbuda, comprising offshore and onshore banks and a trust company, eventually rising to the position of Commercial Banking Manager.

He entered the political arena in 1999, when he was elected to parliament for the constituency of St. John's City West. He was appointed Minister of Planning, Trade, Industry, Commerce and Public Service Affairs in his first term as an MP.[citation needed]

Prime Minister[edit]

Gaston Browne led the Antigua Labour Party to victory in the 12 June 2014 general election, after 10 years in opposition, winning 14 out of 17 seats. Browne was sworn in as Prime Minister on 13 June 2014.[7] He defeated Baldwin Spencer's UPP, which had ruled for 10 years. Browne holds the additional office of Minister of Finance.[8]

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma[edit]

On 6 September 2017 Hurricane Irma swept through Barbuda. Gaston Browne stated that the Category 5 storm had destroyed 95% of the structures and vehicles.[9] Initial estimates showed that at least 60% of the island's residents were homeless because of the disaster.[10] All communications with Barbuda were completely down for a time; most of the communications system had been destroyed.[11]

On 8 September 2017, Browne described the situation as follows during an interview. "Barbuda right now is literally a rubble" with no water or phone service; he said there had been only a single fatality.[12] The government had almost completed the evacuation of the entire island; nearly 1,800 people were transferred to Antigua.[13]

On the same day, the first of three cargo planes arrived from the US, with over 120,000 pounds of relief for Barbuda. The cost was covered by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and by donations from Martin Franklyn and the Coleman Company in the US.[14] Also on 8 September, Browne discussed Barbuda's urgent needs with Administrator Mark Green of the United States Agency for International Development. USAID had already sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team and would continue to coordinate with the government and relief organizations.[15]

Browne's government was facing a massive challenge. An estimate published by Time indicated that over $100 million would be required to rebuild homes and infrastructure. Philmore Mullin, Director of Antigua and Barbuda's National Office of Disaster Services, said that "all critical infrastructure and utilities are non-existent – food supply, medicine, shelter, electricity, water, communications, waste management". He summarised the situation as follows: "Public utilities need to be rebuilt in their entirety ... It is optimistic to think anything can be rebuilt in six months ... In my 25 years in disaster management, I have never seen something like this."[16]

Family and personal life[edit]

Browne is married to Maria Bird-Browne, niece of the second Prime Minister Lester Bird.[17] The couple have a son, Prince Gaston Browne,[5] who was Browne's fourth child, as he had three children prior to marriage. They had a second child, a daughter, in September 2020.[18]

On 11 December, it was announced that Maria would stand as a candidate for Antigua Labour Party in the St John's Rural East constituency.[19] She won the seat in the March 2018 election.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b https://caricom.org/wp-content/uploads/Rotation-Schedule-for-the-Chairmanship-of-the-Conference-Jan-2018-Jun-2025.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ a b "Meet Gaston Browne", Gaston Browne website.
  3. ^ "ABLP Wins", Daily Observer, 13 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Antigua and Barbuda" Archived 15 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.
  5. ^ a b "ABLP leader Hon. Gaston Browne ties the knot", Caribbean Times. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Gaston Browne", Henley Global.
  7. ^ Jacqueline Charles, "Browne becomes new prime minister of Antigua, youngest ever", The Miami Herald, 13 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Government of Antigua and Barbuda". ab.gov.ag.
  9. ^ Fowler, Tara (8 September 2017). "Battered Caribbean islands brace for 2nd major hurricane in a week". ABC News.
  10. ^ "Barbuda 'totally demolished' but Antigua spared, says PM* Archived 7 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine". Trinidad Express Newspaper. Caribbean Communication Network. 6 September 2017.
  11. ^ Bosotti, Aurora. "Hurricane Irma UPDATE: Barbuda diplomat says ALL CONTACT has been lost with island". Express Newspapers. 6 September 2017.
  12. ^ Laura Smith-Spark; Marilia Brocchetto. "Deaths reported as Hurricane Irma batters northern Caribbean islands". CNN. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  13. ^ Loria, Kevin (8 September 2017). "Barbuda is trying to totally evacuate today ahead of Hurricane Jose after Hurricane Irma 'demolished' 90% of the island". Business Insider.
  14. ^ "Government's Hurricane relief for Barbuda begin arriving on Antigua Friday". 9 September 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  15. ^ "USAID Administrator Mark Green's Call with Gaston Browne, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda". usaid.gov. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Hurricane Irma Flattens Barbuda, Leaving Population Stranded". Time. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Antigua & Barbuda: Gaston Browne, New Opposition Leader – Begins Prepping for General Elections", The Habari Network, 26, November 2012.
  18. ^ "PM Browne says wife and baby are 'doing very well'". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 20 September 2020. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  19. ^ Loan, Joyce. "Antigua: Sacked minister Asot Michael WILL be election candidate". WIC News.
  20. ^ "PM's wife becomes youngest parliamentarian". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2020.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party
2012–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
2014–present
Incumbent
Preceded by Minister of Finance of Antigua and Barbuda
2014–present
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chairman of the Caribbean Community
2021–2022
Succeeded by