News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Jan. 5, 2023: Richard L. Bernal, Jamaica’s former ambassador to the United States, reportedly collapsed and died Wednesday evening, Jan. 4th, in Kingston, Jamaica.
Reports indicate Ambassador Bernal collapsed while walking in Norbrook, St Andrew, with his wife.
Ambassador Bernal was a Jamaican economist and diplomat who served as the Jamaican Ambassador to the United States from May 1991 to August 2001, simultaneously holding the post of Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the Organization of American States.
In March 2016, Bernal took up the post of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and in 2018, he was made a Professor of Practice (PoP) in international economic policy at The UWI.
He was also a member of the Board of Directors at Laspau, Harvard University and served as Director-General of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) for eight years where he was responsible for trade negotiations for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
As Principal Negotiator for the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM), Bernal participated in the negotiation of the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and also served as CARICOM’s lead negotiator and spokesperson in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations.
Between 2008 and 2016, Bernal served as a Member of the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank. In 2015, he served as a member of the World Bank’s External Advisory Panel for Diversity and Inclusion.
Prior to his diplomatic career, Bernal taught economics at UWI for seven years, served as CEO of a commercial bank, and worked as an economic advisor to the government of Jamaica.
Bernal studied at the University of the West Indies, The New School for Social Research (NSSR) in New York and School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. His degrees included a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), a Master of Arts (M.A.), a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Master of International Public Policy (M.I.P.P.).
His writings and research focused a lot on China and its influence in the Caribbean. Bernal published five books and over 100 articles on topics related to international economics and trade. His books were ‘Globalisation, Trade and Economic Development. A Study of the CARIFORM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement;’ ‘The Influence of Small States on Superpowers: Jamaica and US Foreign Policy;’ ‘Dragon in the Caribbean: China’s Global Re-Dimensioning – Challenges and Opportunities for the Caribbean;’ ‘Medical Tourism in the Jamaica. The Potential of Jamaica (with Henry Lowe);’ and ‘Corporate versus National Interest in US Trade Policy: Chiquita and Caribbean Bananas.’
At the time of his passing, Ambassador Bernal, former Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States was also Senior Associate for the Americas Program at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
Tributes flooded social media following news of Bernal’s sudden death.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Ambassador Richard Bernal. Ambassador Bernal gave committed service to his beloved country, Jamaica, and to elevating our status and relations with bilateral and hemispheric partners.”
CARICOM Secretary-General Carla Natalie Barnett wrote: “I am shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dr Richard Bernal who was instrumental in promoting and advancing the Community’s trade and economic interests. Condolences to his family.”