Trinidad and Tobago has gone into mourning upon hearing the news that one its former Prime Ministers (who also had a tenure as President of the country), Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson, passed away on April 9.
A lawyer by profession, Robinson, who is being hailed as a true statesman, was instrumental in the creation of the International Criminal Court. His political career began when he served as a minister in the People's National Movement, then led by the country's first Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams, before breaking with the party during the Black Power Revolution in 1970. The PNM had held a monopoly on political power, until Robinson became the first non-PNM Prime Minister when the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) was voted into government in 1986, winning the general election by a landslide 33-3.
Over the next five years, Robinson's tenure as Prime Minister would be turbulent: the country faced falling revenues due a reduction in the price of oil and there was a splintering of the coalition that formed the party. But the nadir of Robinson's tenure (which, many would counter, was his finest moment), came during the attempted coup of 1990 when gunmen stormed the Parliament and held Robinson and most of Cabinet hostage. When Robinson was asked by one of the gunmen to order the Trinidad & Tobago Army to withdraw, Robinson instead order them to “attack with full force”. He was subsequently shot in the right leg.
Robinson later served as the third President of Trinidad and Tobago, from 1997 to 2003, during which time his most notable and controversial action was the decision to invite then Opposition Leader Patrick Manning, who headed the PNM party, to form the government following an 18-18 tie in the 2001 general election.
Netizens had much to say about his passing. On Facebook, Natasha Nunez-St. Clair praised Robinson for his bravery:
Apart from his striking resemblance to my father, I always admired ANR Robinson. His willingness to die for his country is his enduring legacy, as well as his contribution to global justice in the form of the ICC. May he rest in peace.
She also mentioned a meeting she had with him as President:
I remember, as an earnest 27yo, sending daily postcards to then President ANR Robinson, urging him to make the right decision during the 18-18 fiasco. My simple political action was met with an invitation to an audience with the President. The 30min conversation was enlightening, inspiring and gave me the confidence of knowing that my postcard campaign was an important example of citizenship and patriotism.
Many Twitter users recalled Robinson's defiance in the face of danger during the 1990 Coup attempt:
“These are murderers & torturers. Attack with full force,” – ANR Robinson. RIP to T&T's most courageous politician. pic.twitter.com/QloVfF2yMB
— Darren L. D (@fudgie8) April 9, 2014
"Attack with full force!" Words of a great man and former great leader of our country. RIP ANR Robinson. Thank you sir.
— MizzBenji (@Jcharluv) April 9, 2014
— Kyloo #GTB (@mrmakeit_) April 9, 2014
Thank ANR Robinson, your contribution has allowed Trinidad and Tobago to continue on as FREE Democratic nation
— Gabriel Nicholas (@gabe_est86) April 9, 2014
Some Twitter users argued that Robinson was Trinidad's most influential politician after Dr. Eric Williams:
Arguably our most influential politician since than Eric Williams. #ANRRobinson
— Ayanna Gillian Lloyd (@AyaRoots) April 9, 2014
— Darrel Sukhdeo (@darrel3000) April 9, 2014
Others continued to tweet his praises:
Had an assignment to compare one person of this generation with the Renaissance men….I used ANR Robinson…true leader…
— keone guy (@datguy42) April 9, 2014
Good night ANR Robinson a Prime Minister, a President and a gentleman. You came, you saw and you conquered. T&T has lost a gem.
— Ngozichi Omekara,OD (@EyesOfMercy) April 10, 2014
My Condolences to the Family of the Late President ANR Robinson….his service to TnT will always be remembered!
— Mush D Vagrant (@FasalMohamed1) April 9, 2014
This Twitter user noted Robinson's role in the creation of the International Criminal Court:
— Abu Karol (@AbuKarol) April 9, 2014
Others simply paid their respects and offered their sympathy:
RIΡ Mr. ANR Robinson…u suffered enough. Ρeace be with u
— CaNdZ (@CandyDapps) April 9, 2014
Condolences to the family of former President and PM ANR Robinson who died this morning. May his work and dream for TT never be lost.
— Aabida Allaham (@aabida_allaham) April 9, 2014