FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2001 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on as President Bush addresses State Department employees at the State Department in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications, his family said Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)

The United National Congress (UNC) has joined with many around the world to mourn the passing of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died on Monday 18 October 2021.

In the following news release, the UNC extends condolences to Mr Powell’s family and loved ones and recalls how he maintained close ties with his Caribbean roots.

Today the UNC joins with the rest of the world in mourning the passing of General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State of the United States of America. We extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to the family and loved ones of General Powell.

General Powell made decisive marks in the military history of the world. In the United States, he broke many barriers, most notably becoming the first black Secretary of State in that country.

As a child of Jamaican immigrants, however, General Powell has always had a special tie to the Caribbean. He came to Trinidad and Tobago on two occasions, both times when the UNC were in Government, once under Basdeo Panday and once under Kamla Persad-Bissessar. It has been many years since our country has welcomed a man of such international stature and cultivated such close relationships.

During both visits, General Powell launched very important education initiatives, which were essential parts of both UNC government’s revolutionary education thrusts.

In 1998 General Powell launched the Eric Williams Memorial Collection, along with Prime Minister Basdeo Panday and Erica Williams-Connell. In 2011, General Powell had accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to celebrate the launch of the National Structured Mentoring Programme, a programme which has sadly been cancelled by the current administration.

During his 2011 visit, General Powell urged that persons in the US with Caribbean roots have an obligation to reach back home and touch fellow citizens. He was impressed by what the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Government was doing with the mentoring programme.

General Powell maintained his ties to the Caribbean, and had a particular love for Trinidad’s calypso music. Indeed, the greatest honour he ever received, according to General Powell himself, was the one he received in Trinidad from the Mighty Sparrow, whom he admired and followed while growing up in the Caribbean community in Harlem, New York City.

Today we not only mourn, but we also celebrate the fully-lived life of General Powell. We admire and honour him for blazing a trail for Caribbean history-makers on the world stage and thank him for continuing the legacy.