Doreen Hemlock (South Florida Sun Sentinel) recently wrote a thoughtful editorial about the life and work of John Collins, a dedicated Caribbean journalist. In her article, published in Caribbean Business (21 August 2014), Hemlock describes him as “a journalist and consultant whose love and knowledge of the Caribbean made him a sought-after reference for the region for decades.” He died on August 11 in Puerto Rico. Here are excerpts:
Born in St. Louis, Collins adopted the Caribbean as his home and lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), the Dominican Republic (D.R.), St. Maarten and mostly in Puerto Rico. He visited almost every island and nation in the Caribbean and contributed to publications across the region.
His work as a journalist won him four Overseas Press Club awards. As an adviser on Caribbean affairs, he served three gubernatorial administrations in Puerto Rico from 1985 to 1993. “Puerto Rico will never realize how much we owe to John Collins,” said Antonio Colorado, a former Resident Commissioner and former P.R. secretary of State. “Our relations with the Caribbean and everything we were able to accomplish in the 1980s and early 1990s was due in a very important part to what John did.”
Collins advised the D.R. Presidents Joaquín Balaguer and Leonel Fernández. He also contributed for years as a fellow to the Global Foundation for Democracy & Development, founded by Fernández.
[. . .] Collins began his career as a journalist in the Caribbean as a correspondent for United Press International from 1978 to 1983. He then worked with Caribbean Business in Puerto Rico, first on staff for five years and later as a contributor.
[. . .] Colleagues remember the blue-eyed, high-energy Collins for his insatiable appetite to understand the Caribbean. He was open-hearted in sharing his knowledge and contacts, and often gave friends books. “John knew everybody and was always available to help you—a kind and generous man,” said writer Mark Kurlansky, author of “A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny.”
[. . .] Collins was outspoken with colleagues on his views, and over the years, came to lament what he called the “marginalization of the Caribbean in the era of globalization.”
“John had a discriminating mind and called the shots as he saw them,” said Caribbean scholar Anthony Maingot, professor emeritus at Florida International University.
He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1956, deployed in Illinois, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Washington, D.C., Germany, Morocco and Libya. [. . .]
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