Volume No. 2 Issue No. 29 - Wednesday February 27, 2008|
In response to Dominica terror island
By Gabriel Christian
Dear Mr. Kozloff:
I have just read your article on the COHA website titled "Dominica Terror
Island" with dismay. I am a Dominican by birth who, in concert with other
concerned Dominicans, have worked for a lifetime promoting Dominica's development and good relations between Dominica and the US. I am familiar with your work, having read some rather balanced articles from you in the past on various on-line journals.
Gabriel Christian reacts to COHA analysis.
I must say that your article on Dominica, even where well
intended, does a disservice in this sense: the average reader will not discern
anything other than the island has now become a wretched cesspool of
anti-American sentiment and part of some sordid anti-American cabal. As you know, that is simply not true. It is simply not fair or accurate to draw a parralel with Grenada in the 80s.
Dominica is a country with long standing ties of friendship to the United
States. Many US citizens study in Dominica and/or consider Dominica their home.
The overwhelming majority of Dominicans have consistently sought to promote
US tourism and investment in Dominica.
Dominica has no army, but is an
English speaking country which has much affinity with, and close historical ties
to, the US. For that reason the US army is where Dominicans have served, as far
back as World War One.
Currently one US general officer, and several other
senior NCOs of Dominican heritage, serve in the US army in Iraq and
Afghanistan. They, like the many US citizens and residents of Dominican heritage, would
be shocked and dismayed at this portrayal of their place of birth.
Dominica, however, is a sovereign nation. To that end, the island has also
built friendly relations with neighbors such as Cuba and Venezuela. All of
these links have benefited Dominicans and none of these countries, to my
knowledge, have insisted that the island join them on any anti- US crusade.
Despite such links, Dominica has never been drawn into any action injurious to US
national security interest. While you may have intended to serve the truth by
warning about the quaint and distracted politics of some who now seek high
office in Washington, your article's inflammatory title undermines your effort
and provides grist for the propaganda mill of those who are prone to believe
the worst about Caribbean and Latin American people who seek self
determination and equitable development.
It is for that reason, that I implore you to
revisit your article or attempt some clarification. Your readers would be most
enlightened where you were to write an article which speaks to:
1. An island which has a 97% literacy rate - despite having so called
"grinding poverty" and having witnessed the decline in the fortunes of its banana
2. An island with a life expectancy of 79 years for males and 82 years for
females despite having so called grinding poverty.
3. An island which has universal health care, despite having so called
4. An island descended from captive Africans who were, against their will,
pressed into slavery; and many of whom fought such slavery by force of arms
for over 200 years. And whose troops in the British army service at Fort Shirley,
Portsmouth, Dominica in 1802, mutinied and struck a blow for freedom before
being repressed in the most barbarous fashion. Yet, by that virtue, the
British were compelled to free 10,000 slave soldiers in the biggest emancipation of
enslaved peoples in the British empire prior to the abolition of slavery in
1834. That is our noble and freedom loving history.
5. An island whose indigenous people resisted their extinction, still
survive on their own land and who now have a representative in the national
cabinet. Yes, an indigenous Carib/Karifuna people whose health care indices are
superior to that enjoyed by many other indigenous people in the Americas who are
discriminated against- to include many of those who languish on so-called US
6. An island whose governments have been duly elected in free and fair
elections since independence in 1978, without the taint seen in recent elections
in some powerful and "wealthy" countries.
7. An island whose young Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his cabinet
were able to stave off national collapse and maintain the ship of state by
determined - though not perfect - management of the island's scant resources
after the imposition of harsh conditions concomitant with the IMF assistance
referenced in your article; with scant assistance from traditional allies.
8. An island which has consistently maintained a friendship with the US,
despite the fact that several US governments over the years supported apartheid
in South Africa and dictatorship in the Caribbean region such as in Haiti.
9. An island which was selected in November 2007 by National Geographic as
the top island in the Western hemisphere for eco-tourism due to its
maintenance of a pristine natural environment, despite the economic difficulties it
10. An island considered the Nature Island of the World, which welcomes all
who come in peace and love; and which has no interest in conflict amongst its
sister nations of the Americas.
All of that to say that COHA would be doing the most elementary norms of
justice a favor where it featured the real Dominica and our worthy aspects, over
the presumed "terror island" that some would consider it to be due to its
acceptance of Cuban assistance or Venezuelan fuel assistance. Understand that,
while I appreciate your efforts over the years to give a fair hearing to
Caribbean Latin American issues, your latest attempt re Dominica falls flat
where peaceful intent - or tranquility - is concerned.
The article is overly dramatic where it uses the term "terror" in relationship to Dominica. You know too well that tens of thousands of innocent people have been killed in recent times merely because they live in countries associated with that term.
Simply put, like most peace loving people, I do not want Dominica to be bombed
where people idly use that term - "terror island." We know the life of
certain people on this earth have been considered cheap for centuries; but we
desire to turn a page.
You may have already - inadvertently - caused hardship
to an island hotelier, taxi driver, craft seller, or farmer, where visitors
or potential investors who read your journal may be now scared off. We have
seen the power of the US media at work before, where the ill-informed are
not offered truth.
Indeed, your article operates as a disincentive to foreign investment,
something that many patriotic Dominicans and others who love Dominica have been
trying to promote all these years. Shared among Capitol Hill staffers and
other Washington, DC policy makers who read your respected journal, your article
would - regrettably - serve more to inflame the ignorant and confuse the wise.
Again, for an organization which would seem to favor the best values of
those in the US who are peace loving, the caption and tone of your article was
It would do us all well Mr. Kozloff, where you issued some
clarification to the effect that Dominicans are a people who desire the
peaceful development of their country and the right to maintain friendships with all
those who assist their survival: to include the US.
This is the time when
progressives like you should come and visit Dominica, and stay a while. In so
doing, you would truly appreciate the love and friendship of our people and the
total absence of anti-American sentiment amidst the natural beauty the
island's people have preserved for the benefit of all mankind.
Trusting that you will give those of us who care for Dominica's development
an opportunity to have a more balanced and respectful portrayal of our true
state of affairs, I remain yours,
Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.
E-mail to a friend