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Caribbean political activist Richard Hart dies in Bristol

POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Robert Hart has passed away

RICHARD HART, one of the Caribbean’s foremost political activist and author, passed away at his home in Bristol on Saturday, December 2.

He was 96 years old.

A founding member of Jamaica’s ruling People's National Party (PNP) in 1938, Richard Hart was one of "The four Hs" (Ken Hill, Frank Hill, Arthur Henry and Hart) expelled from the PNP, in a purge of its leftist radicals in the early 1950s.

After his expulsion, he formed the People's Freedom Movement (later renamed the Socialist Party of Jamaica). The party disbanded in 1962.

Hart was also active in the early development of the Jamaican trade union movement, helping to consolidate the strength of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), particularly during the period of Sir Alexander Bustamante's incarceration.

He extended his trade union activities to the wider Caribbean where he remains widely known for his contribution in this field.

Hart was also a lawyer, and served as legal consultant and, briefly, Attorney General in the People's Revolutionary Government of Maurice Bishop before Bishop's execution and the US led invasion in 1983.

He worked closely with Cheddi Jagan in Guyana as well and there he also did extensive research on the Arawak Indians.

He lived most of his later years in the UK where he resumed his legal practice for a few years.

While in Britain he also continued his research and writing.

Some of his notable books include Towards Decolonisation: Political, Labour and Economic Developments in Jamaica 1939–1945 (1999) and Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion (2002).

On hearing the news of his passing, Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK, Aloune Ndombet Assamba said: “I am sad to have learned on Saturday of the passing of a great Jamaican and Caribbean scholar, lawyer, and one of the founding members of the Peoples National Party.

"His work and principled stand on the issues that he espoused stand as a fitting memorial to his life. My condolences to his wife Avis and his family.”

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