Saturday, February 24, 2018

Chambers' wife dies

THE wife of Trinidad and Tobago's second prime minister, George Chambers, has died at the age of 81.

Juliana Chambers was pronounced dead at her Santa Margarita, St Augustine home on Thursday night, moments after collapsing in her bathroom.

Her death has come as a surprise, with several members of the People's National Movement (PNM), of which her husband was a member, expressing shock over her sudden passing.

The Express was told that at around 7.30 p.m., Chambers was in her bathroom when she screamed out to relatives asking for help. Her daughter Andrea attempted to provide assistance to her mother but was prevented from doing so by the locked bathroom door.

After forcing open the door, she found Chambers on the floor and in a state of unconsciousness, before contacting Emergency Health Services (EHS). However, by the time they arrived, Chambers was already dead.

Contacted by phone yesterday, PNM general secretary Ashton Ford said the party decided on not issuing a press release on Chambers's death as her family still had not communicated with the political party up to late evening.

"It was really shocking for all of us because it was such a sudden passing. It was only on Wednesday that I spoke with her and she did not seem ill.

"We paid our respects to her last night (Thursday) during the (PNM's) post-budget meeting (in Diego Martin) by observing a minute of silence. It was there that we learnt of her death. Even some of her relatives were here when she passed," said Ford.

On the party issuing a statement, Ford said: "Well we still are waiting on the family before making any statement. They have not communicated with us just yet. She was the wife of a former prime minister so things must be done in a particular way."

Juliana Chambers grew up in a small wooden structure located at 36 Edward Street, Port of Spain. The building has since been named Capildeo House after it was sold to former parliamentarian and attorney Suren Capildeo in 2002.

On the front of the building is a plaque which reads: "MRS JULIANA CHAMBERS, wife of The Honourable GEORGE CHAMBERS Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago LIVED HERE."

In 1956, the same year George Chambers entered politics as a member of the PNM, he and Juliana got married and moved into their home at Santa Margarita. Andrea is their only child.

Chambers served as prime minister until 1986 when the PNM suffered defeat in that year's general election by the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), led by ANR Robinson.

George Chambers died at hospital on November 4, 1997 at the age of 69.