The Rt. Hon. Sir James Fitz-Allen Mitchell was a Privy Councillor beginning in 1985. He was educated in St. Vincent at the Saint Vincent Grammar School. He continued his education at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago and at the University of British Columbia in Canada. An agriculturist by profession, Mitchell worked with Government and in the Ministry of Overseas Development in London, and as an agricultural research officer for the St. Vincent Government.
Mitchell, agronomist and politician, has been a dominant figure in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for almost three decades. He became Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs in July 1984 and was re-elected for a fourth successive term when his Party scored a marginal 8-7 victory in the Parliamentary Elections of 15 June 1998. He initially entered politics in 1966 by winning a legislative seat as a candidate of the St. Vincent Labour Party. In 1975 he founded the New Democratic Party (NDP) becoming sole Parliamentary Opposition until 1984. One of the longest serving prime ministers in Caribbean history, Mitchell was also foreign minister from 1984 until 1992. He retired in 2000 and stayed on as Senior Minister until 2001.
Sir James was co-chair of International Democrat Observer teams in the first democratic elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and Hungary in 1991. He led the Commonwealth Observer team at the election in Lesotho in 2002.
As a regional leader who helped to form the Caribbean Agricultural Regional Development Institute (CARDI) and as a professional agronomist, Sir James’s interest in agriculture has extended beyond the borders of his native land. In his opening address at the 1st Caribbean Agricultural Technology Conference (CATC) held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2000, his message was “agriculture must thrive” despite the challenges facing the regional sector.
He indicated that the demise of the regional banana industry would cause great social disruption, as various sectors of society (including farmers, transporters and suppliers of fertilizer) are dependent upon income generated from the industry. His policy was to create through land reform a property owning democracy by purchasing plantations, and allocating lands to the landless, while ensuring enhanced productivity and market opportunity.The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has therefore provided various incentives to promote banana production and diversification efforts. This includes the formation of land policy, which provides land for the landless as a means of building ownership, while increasing productivity.
Dedicated to the principles of the integration process, Sir James at the 8th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in 1987 expressed the ultimate ideal when he said, “As I see it, we must have one flag, one anthem and freedom of movement of people, services and capital.”
Notwithstanding his public duties, he has published articles and books on agriculture, including studies on fungicide usage and land reform, and on the problems of Caribbean society. Sir James's autobiography Beyond the Islands was published by MacMillan Caribbean in 2006.
Mitchell is currently a member of the InterAction Council.
Mitchell has been a supporter of the Grenadines becoming a separate nation from St. Vincent.