Monday, April 10, 2006

Dominica Government Overthrows Carib Chief

The following story was reported on Friday, March 17, 2006, in Trinidad's Newsday newspaper. It was headlined," Dominica Fires Carib Chief," the report itself follows below:


"A rift between the Carib Indian chief and the group's six-member council forced Dominica's government to dissolve the leadership body for the largest indigenous population in the Caribbean, an official said.

"The government's move came after months of infighting between Carib chief Charles Williams and the council following Williams' dismissal of two councillors, said John Fountain, the government commissioner who oversees the island's northeast where the Caribs live. Kent Auguiste, who was on the disbanded council, said that Williams acted as a "dictator" and made decisions contrary to their rulings. Williams said the council never wanted him to be chief and that his removal by the government one week ago was "illegal."

"The Dominican Government has appointed Garnette Joseph, who Williams beat during the 2004 election, to act as chief until a vote can be held to elect a new leader and council. About 3,000 Caribs live in Dominica, the only Caribbean nation to have a remaining Carib community [CAC editor: note to our readers, this statement is clearly erroneous, and like the statement above about the largest indigenous population to be found in the Caribbean being in Dominica, there is no incontrovertible evidence to back that assertion.]

"Caribs live and have collective property rights in rural communities in the island's northeast."

  1. What is the legal authority for the Dominica Government's overthrow of the Chief?
  2. What role did Carib Councillors play in seeking the intervention of the state?
  3. Why could this division not be resolved by Caribs themselves?
  4. What will the councillors do if the Carib electorate re-elects Charles Williams?
  5. Does this have anything to do with the fallout from the filiming in Dominica of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" which alllegedly features scenes of Carib cannibalism, which Williams opposed and which some of the councillors supported?
  6. What precedents are set here in terms of (further) loss of Carib autonomy?
  7. What is the proper division of authority as set out by the constitution of the Carib Council?

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