U.S. presidential delegation to attend the funeral of Barbados PM Thompson

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday announced the members of a presidential delegation to attend the funeral of Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, who died late last month.

The White House said the presidential delegation will be led by Gil Kerlikowske, who is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The other members of the presidential delegation are Eugene Gray, Director for Central America and Caribbean Affairs of Obama’s National Security Staff, and D. Brent Hardt, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Thompson died on October 23 at the age of 48 after a relatively short battle with cancer. He passed away at his home in Saint Philip on Barbados with his family by his side and had been suffering from severe stomach pain since March, although it was not until September that doctors formally diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer.

The Prime Minister had flown several times to the United States to undergo chemotherapy at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital in order to shrink the tumor in his pancreas so it could eventually be removed. He died before the tumor could be removed.

In September, Thompson addressed the island nation with its roughly 285,000 citizens in a special audio address in which he, among other things, announced a reshuffle of his Cabinet and appointed Freundel Stuart as Acting Prime Minister.

Thompson said he chose to do it solely via audio and not on camera because he wanted people to focus on his message, and not on how he looked. This as a result of the chemotherapy he was receiving, causing him to rapidly lose weight.

Soon after Thompson’s death, the United States conveyed its condolences to Barbados through U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who released a statement on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama and on behalf of all Americans.

“Barbados has lost a leader and the nations of the Americas have lost a friend and valued partner,” Clinton said. “Prime Minister Thompson was a champion for democracy and justice in the Caribbean and an advocate for wider prosperity and opportunity throughout the region. Today my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mara and their daughters.”

Clinton said Barbados is blessed with strong democratic institutions to ensure a smooth transition of power and said she is confident that Barbados’ friendship with the United States will continue under new leadership.

Thompson, of the Democratic Labour Party, was elected the nation’s prime minister after an election in January 2008. He is survived by his wife Marie-Josephine Mara and their three children, Misha, Oya and Osa-Marie.

For the original report go to http://wireupdate.com/wires/11832/u-s-presidential-delegation-to-attend-the-funeral-of-barbados-pm-thompson/

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