Browne at the 7th Summit of the Americas
|Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda|
|Assumed office |
13 June 2014
|Governor General||Louise Lake-Tack|
|Preceded by||Baldwin Spencer|
Gaston Alfonso Browne
9 February 1967
Villa/Point, Antigua and Barbuda
|Political party||Labour Party|
|Alma mater||City Banking College|
University of Salamanca
|Net worth||US$11.1 million (2014)|
Browne was born on 9 February 1967, in Villa/Point Area on the twin island of Antigua and Barbuda. His life as a teenager was extremely tough. As a child, he lived in Gray's Farm with his paternal great-grandmother, who was in her eighties, at the time, partially blind, poor and aging. After her passing, he later grew up in Point, another impoverished area.
As a child, he attended the Villa Primary School and later the Princess Margaret School after successfully passing the nation's common entrance examination. After completing his secondary education, Gaston attended the City Banking College in the United Kingdom, where he graduated with a BSc in banking and finance. Later, he attended University of Manchester, acquiring an MBA in Finance.
Following graduation, Browne secured a position with the Swiss American Banking Group, a major banking consortium in Antigua and Barbuda, comprising offshore and onshore banks and a trust company, eventually rising to the position of Commercial Banking Manager.
He entered the political arena in 1999, when he was elected to parliament for the constituency of St. John's City West. He was appointed Minister of Planning, Trade, Industry, Commerce and Public Service Affairs in his first term as an MP.
Gaston Browne led the Antigua Labour Party to victory in the 12 June 2014 general election, after 10 years in opposition, winning 14 out of 17 seats. Browne was sworn in as Prime Minister on 13 June 2014. He defeated Baldwin Spencer's UPP, which had ruled for 10 years.
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma
On 6 September 2017 Hurricane Irma swept through Barbuda. Gaston Browne stated that the Category 5 storm had destroyed 95% of the structures and vehicles. Initial estimates showed that at least 60% of the island's residents were homeless because of the disaster. All communications with Barbuda were completely down for a time; most of the communications system had been destroyed.
On 8 September 2017, Browne described the situation as follows during an interview. "Barbuda right now is literally a rubble" with no water or phone service; he said there had been only a single fatality. The government had almost completed the evacuation of the entire island; nearly 1,800 people were transferred to Antigua.
On the same day, the first of three cargo planes arrived from the US, with over 120,000 pounds of relief for Barbuda. The cost was covered by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and by donations from Martin Franklyn and the Coleman Company in the US. Also on 8 September, Browne discussed Barbuda's urgent needs with Administrator Mark Green of the United States Agency for International Development. USAID had already sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team and would continue to coordinate with the government and relief organizations.
Browne's government was facing a massive challenge. An estimate published by Time indicated that over $100 million would be required to rebuild homes and infrastructure. Philmore Mullin, Director of Antigua and Barbuda's National Office of Disaster Services, said that "all critical infrastructure and utilities are non-existent – food supply, medicine, shelter, electricity, water, communications, waste management". He summarised the situation as follows: "Public utilities need to be rebuilt in their entirety ... It is optimistic to think anything can be rebuilt in six months ... In my 25 years in disaster management, I have never seen something like this."
Family and personal life
Browne is married to Maria Bird-Browne, niece of the second Prime Minister Lester Bird. The couple have a son, Prince Gaston Browne, who was Browne's fourth child, as he had three children prior to marriage. They had a second child, a daughter, in September 2020.
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