Robert Milton Cato (3 June 1915 – 10 February 1997) was the first Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and also held the offices Premier of Saint Vincent and Chief Minister of Saint Vincent before independence.
Cato was the leader of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party, and led the country through independence in 1979.
Cato was born in Saint Vincent, British Windward Islands. He participated in WWII as a part of the Canadian army. After returning to Saint Vincent, Cato became involved in politics.
In 1955 he co-founded the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party. In 1967, when Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became an associated state, he became its Chief Minister. He became Premier in 1969.
Cato’s Labour Party lost elections in 1972 and the opposition leader, James Fitz-Allen Mitchell became Premier. Cato’s party and its coalition partners won elections in 1974. He served as Premier, and after independence, Prime Minister, from 1974 until 1984, even though his coalition partners collapsed during the mid-1970s.
Cato led Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to complete independence from Britain in 1979. Cato, a socialist politician, did not support other nearby socialist governments such as those in Cuba, Grenada and Guyana as he opposed Marxism.
Instead, his administration allied with like-minded pro-Western governments such as those in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, cooperating with them on economic and defence matters.
Cato’s Labour Party lost the general elections of 1984 to the New Democratic Party. He died in Kingstown, Saint Vincent on February 10th, 1997