Defeat is not an Option
A Confidential Note on Dominica’s Status – Summer 2007
This report is written for one purpose: the victory of the national development project for Dominica as led by the independence forces arrayed under the banner of the Dominica Labour Party. It is required that we reconnect to the lofty goals of the founders of the party who led a mass movement for national dignity, social and economic progress for the common man from the period 1955 and onwards. In 2007, the party as an apparatus seems to have lost its philosophical moorings and many adherents forget the need to build alliances, act with personal integrity, mediate conflict between party members successfully complete tasks, build the party membership at home and abroad and diligently work to ensure government competently serves its constituency: the nation. Many feel left out of decision making or are unaware of what government policy is or what is the role of the party machinery – where it exist at all. The mission is not clear and many are rudderless. The result has been inner-party recrimination, undisciplined personal behavior, the drop off in popular support in key sectors, an emboldened opposition, a resurgent Freedom party, the daily assaults of UWP aligned media personalities, and the new PDM which tore off a segment of DLP aligned persons, along with doubtful support among the civil and police service structure. In the Diaspora, the government’s outreach is under threat of erosion due to the difficulties faced by returnees and Dominican patriots who seek to invest in Dominica among other factors.
The passage of Hurricane Dean in August 2007 however has allowed the government and Labour Party a classic opportunity to mobilize the whole country for reconstruction. The absence of the Prime Minister during the hurricane should not be allowed to become an albatross around the neck of the rebuilding effort. The Prime Minister (PM) could apologize, focus on the populace on the mission of reconstruction, point to measures taken to rebuild, and move on. An apology here suggests strength not weakness. The opposition would be risking much where it focuses on corrosive criticism, or where it seeks to be obstructionist during this period. However it would pounce on any missteps made by government in the reconstruction effort as the Freedom Party did in 1979 when O.J. Seraphine failed to mobilize the country. A young, charming and personally popular man from Roseau, O.J. Seraphine did not win his own seat in the 1980 election when he was perceived as having done a mediocre job in the reconstruction effort. The PM is still the most popular leader in or out of government. The masses consider him sincere and kind. However, he cannot accomplish the mission alone, nor can his personal charisma overcome the challenges noted without a dedicated cadre of competent administrators and a mobilized citizenry.
Philosophy and Passion for the Cause of National Development:
Every country that has succeeded possessed a leadership and citizenry motivated by a cause. It was so with the early United States of America and the so-called American Dream evolved by its constitution and state craft. Even Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought the racism endemic to that society, relied on it. Churchill during the dark days of World War II appealed to basic British Nationalism in his quest to halt the advancing carnage of Hitler Germany’s armies. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru appealed to all Indians to embrace the cause of a free and developed Mother India. Fidel Castro wrapped the philosophy of Cuban nationalists such as Jose Marti and General Antonia Maceo Grajales (The Bronze Titan) around socialism and independence to fight off imperialism and build a strong and advanced country in health care and education. China’s Mao melded socialism and nationalism to build China into a world power. Hugo Chavez has mobilized his country around a modern manifestation of independence hero Simon Bolivar’s national independence and social justice ideals. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew melded British stoicism and efficient administrative forms with the three essential Chinese Confucian principles of: Thrift, Education and Hard Work, to make his mini-state a world-class leader in many areas. So too we must anchor our march to a similar cause.
What is Labour’s cause? Labour is the party of social democracy. What does social democracy mean? Essentially it means the use of democracy or democratic means to evolve society from the ravages of colonialism and capitalism to that of political independence and economic opportunity for the masses: Socialism. But we need not wear borrowed clothes when we speak of socialism. We have our own rich philosophy of Koudmen (cooperative effort) and progressive social change. It was socialization via structures such as a Social Security Administration, ownership of Domlec (even under Freedom Party rule), development of capital accumulation devices such as the cooperative credit unions, Agricultural, Industrial and Development Bank, The National Commercial and Development Bank, land reform, affordable education, the numerous feeder roads for rural farmers and financial support, more country schools, affordable high school education, university scholarships, proper housing for civil servants and police officers, improved health care and new health centers, the Clifton Dupigny Technical College (now Dominica State College) which gave modern Dominica its current form. That is what built our advances in education and health care. That is why the DLP was able to rule for 20 years. These advances were born of a socialist cause and concrete manifestations of it, which moved many of our people from grinding poverty to middle class status in one generation. That is our proud history as seen in those who now own homes at Bath Estate, River Estate, Goodwill, and the numerous land reform schemes such as at Geneva Estate and Castle Bruce Estate. We need to be aware of that history, embrace an attitude grounded in our historical victories and launch new advances from that solid platform that Premier LeBlanc and others built.
All Dominican parties, even Frank Baron’s Dominica United People Party – upon reflection – engaged in opportunity enhancing social democratic measures. The DFP during Eugenia’ Charles reign did not dare detract from those gains and indeed expanded some aspects of that trend. Even the United Workers Party (UWP) adheres to the concept of social democracy, fighting for the same political space of the DLP – but without the DLP’s rich history.
Call it Koudmen Nation (cooperative effort) or an equal opportunity society, we must inspire and mobilize the party and nation to one common cause. It is only when people know what noble cause they are struggling toward, that they will march forth with passion, determination and diligence. Unguided, our population is ripe for misdirection and exploitation by political opportunism of the worst kind.
Faith & Politics: Today, most Dominican parties of substance are left or center-left, in a manner which mirrors a national consensus that Dominicans are of socialist sentiment. Such sentiment is equally supported by the equitable principles of Dominica’s majority Christian population. Our legendary leaders such as LeBlanc, Rosie and Pierro were all faithful to justice and were not selfish or self serving. Their socialist philosophies were deeply rooted in their Christian faith and service to the least, the last, and those left-behind. They were strongest where people felt they worked from the purest and most noble motives of empowering the working classes and rural poor. Where we forget that legacy of service to others, we do so at our peril. No one will sacrifice where they do not detect such purity of heart or purpose. In essence we must embrace and inspire each, other and others, by the kindness, ethical behaviour, discipline, and the love that we show. Socialism, like Christianity, is all about love at its best. Loving your comrades, like yourself, is the best principle. It is humanistic and rises above selfish individualism. We must ensure all comrades get the message and are so dedicated.
Such coupling of socialist values and Christianity was seen during the DLP’s 2005 election campaign with the PM’s call being “God is Good, and the crowd’s refrain being “All the time.” For that marriage to be more substantive and not be seen as one merely of convenience, we must be serious about further education and mobilization of the national concept for Dominica: A Fair Society-Not a Welfare Society. A society grounded in socialist and Christian values which respects discipline, planning and unified effort. One in which all people feel welcomed, without regard to ethnic background or class; in particular the African descended and Carib people – the historically marginalized – must now be empowered in all spheres so we can live in dignity. Embrace of such a cause means the government inspires the nation to act to build, offers equal opportunity to all, but does not guarantee equality of outcome by building some welfare state which fosters crippling dependency by the masses.
We Must Move Away from the “Gimme” Mentality: Campaigning in Dominica must change and we must champion it. It has been the case in recent times where constituents come up to their leaders and ask them to personally pay their light bills, school fees, and other expenses. Even where a neighbors’ dog bark too loud, the Minister is seen as the one to “gimme” a solution. This “gimme” mentality encourages laziness, kills private initiative which is essential to our rise as a nation, and burdens the modest economy and schedules of the ministers and other leaders. It also opens the door to charges of bribery – even where such giving is motivated by a sincere desire to be charitable. What happens when there is nothing left to give? Will they still vote DLP? Where vote getting is premised on material gain, our base will be subject to quick erosion whenever the opponent attacks or there is some misfortune. Therefore, let us set up the GLC system with dispatch. Let us train, educate and formally fund the indigent and unemployed so they can stand on their own. Having people throng the ministry like it is some clinic for mendicants should be discouraged. When will the Ministers find time to work? We should work with a will to set up the Skills & Business Development Program and our own Small Business Administration (or use whatever appropriate structure is already in place) to serve those in need. Our campaigning must now be more educational, more self funding, and less fete driven. To win, we must prepare for those changes now.
The Party & One Dominica! The party must be organized, earn income, provide social and education services and must not be a mere electoral machine to be used at election time and then packed away when victory is won. Recent efforts to rebuild the LYO and party branches are splendid and should be encouraged. In 1979-1980, the DLP branches had all died off and there was no LYO to create a youth base for the party. Young people make revolutions. They are the fearless agency for change. The party must never allow the youth and student population be dominated by its opponents or they will seize the streets. We must encourage the rebuilding of the LYO, encourage the LYO to affiliate with other youth organizations, form an environmental youth arm to be present in that sector, and revive the Dominica Federation of Students which was an indispensable ally to the Popular Independence Committees during the independence movement. Once the streets are captured by the opposition as in 1979, then political power is soon lost.
After elections, where the party is left adrift, splits occur and malaise smolders. When in office, one must not forget to maintain the party that got us there. That attitude must perish or we are guaranteed to lose. Building the party as a patriotic nation-building engine, must be a lifetime vocation and passion. We must build a permanent party headquarters and it must have some rooms to rent to business and overnight guests from our allies in the French islands and elsewhere, when they visit. By having guests and renting office space, then that income will pay for the building’s upkeep. This must be the objective of a DLP Headquarters (HQ) Fund Drive, soonest. But we need not call it a DLP HQ or DLP HQ, fund drive. We can build it promptly, using advanced thermal impact technology, power it, wholly or partially, with solar technology and use party workers to do “Koudmen” to cut back on building cost. That effort will be the start of our One Dominica campaign. We should call it Independence House – or LeBlanc’s Crossing. That way tenants do not feel they are in a party HQ, per se. The party would occupy one floor of what should be a two or three story building. We should make available rental space to one dentist, several doctors, one lawyer, and maybe a shop or tourist boutique. We could have a suite of four rooms on one level, where it is a three level. Those rooms could be rented to our visiting guests. The top level would house party operations. A Koudmen could be done to have such an Independence House or aptly named DLP HQ in each constituency. It could be named after the most prominent DLP leader in that area. Portsmouth – Rosie; Grandbay, Pierro House etc. When not in use as an HQ, it would be a heritage site for the deceased leader with photos, video montage, and memorabilia, managed by a caretaker. Each building would have a conference room for meetings and educational programs; a web browsing cubicle to encourage student involvement with the party should be in place. The conference room could be used to run a network of Little Patriots Day Centers. As we grow the economy, day care centers will become more necessary for working families and it represents an opportunity for the party to raise funds, while raising children in a healthy and country-loving environment.
Such a building effort, with people coming from everywhere to volunteer a day or two, would be inspirational. The title holder to the properties could be the new Edward LeBlanc Foundation and be seen in the context of Dominica’s 30th Anniversary of Independence. Thus, again being nationalists and patriots, this would not be seen as merely a narrow DLP exercise. We must always be mindful to move along a broad front to mobilize the widest swathes of the public possible. Thus the DLP must be seen as the big tent; the party of moderation, political convergence, national unity and independence. All we do must embrace the motto of ONE DOMINICA! And give it teeth.
Dues must be collected with regularity. Membership drives, at home and abroad, must be encouraged. Our website must be robust, dynamic and have an e-commerce portal where books, memorabilia and local products can be sold. The e-portal should be separate from the party website, and be called Dominica’s Heritage – and not be seen as partisan. Rather, as with other entities we spin-off in this rebuilding drive, we should embrace our national flag; promote independence principles, social justice and the economic well being of all. That way we market our values to the broadest number and avoid narrow sectarianism. The patriotic professional, pastor, scientist, home builder, engineer, teacher, police officer, civil servant, entrepreneur, priest, shop owner, lawyer and student must feel comfortable in our ranks and be aware that we are not simply about building a party but our country. This drive must be grounded in“Let us Build Dominica” patriotism. It must be a 24/7 operation, 365 days a year with regular meetings, conferences, annual fund raisers and award dinners and symposia to which well respected speakers can be invited to address major issues of the day. A system to tend to elderly and sick members must be crafted. And we must educate all the independence forces to bridge the gap between “old Labourites and new Labourites.” As always we must stretch the hand of friendship to our opponents and seek to enroll them in nation building. The party then must reflect that alliance between different patriotic sectors as practiced by Rosie, LeBlanc and Pierro.
International Outreach: We must work with Socialist International, South Africa’s ANC, China, the Bolivarians and Cubans, the liberal, African American and “green politics” base in the United States and elsewhere, the British Labour Party, the Nordic countries, our regional allies, and India’s Congress Party and progressive forces to ensure we have friends worldwide. Where we build up GLC type hotels and eco-inns we can promote a political tourism of a sort by inviting our friends and allies to a pristine country where a social democratic party is building a prosperous nation. We can benefit from their advice, investment and friendship. By linking their websites to ours and attending their conferences, and having them attend ours, we can build a party suitable for the 21st Century and a global economy. We will meet with much success where we marry our political work on Dominica and the Diaspora with others who have achieved. We can start with rebuilding that link with Martinique and Guadeloupe where we have historical allies in and out of government; they must see Dominica as a second home and we must host them with regularity. To that end the DLP must have an international secretary and secretariat; alongside a competent financial management team to build the enterprises noted above. This must be done without delay. Where we involve as many willing hands as possible, no one can honestly say that they feel left out.
A Discount or Credit Card: A discount or credit card called One Dominica! or Dominica One! – offering affordable housing, health care, home insurance, car insurance, dental services, legal services, home repair, discounted groceries, to all holders (regardless of whether they are party members) can be devised. We would enlist businesses to provide a 10% discount on all purchases or services made by, or rendered to, card holders. That card can also be used to serve as a credit card and be done in league with the Roseau credit union. The card company we set up can partner with the GoCD and offer to have it be used by all civil servants and Ministers on official business. So the card can have a local issue, an international issue and an official GoCD issue for officials only. That way, a special issue for GoCD business only, would allow the GoCD to track use of state funds more efficiently. My memories of Minister carrying wads of cash on foreign trips made me mindful that a more efficient system could be found to manage such per diem and expense accounts.
The new credit company, done in league with NCB, RCCU or an off shore bank, would be in effect a GLC type operation through which the services and financial benefits are provided. As with all credit cards the transaction fee accrued on each transaction derives income for the organization which can then be put to beneficial use. Many organizations such as universities, American Airlines, the NAACP, now have such affinity cards. Such a card, directed at unifying the country in the face of those whose negative attitudes now threaten social and political conflict, is a worthy antidote to that destructive trend. It is a good move with the need to rebuild after Hurricane Dean. We can dedicate a certain % to infrastructure and economic development. We can urge Dominicans in the Diaspora to use such a card over those they now use. It would provide more than a verbal response to the detractors of the independence movement, and service the needs of Dominicans at home and abroad. Such universal accessibility of the One Dominica! card, through its internet backbone, would unify our people and other government supporters in worthwhile and mutually beneficial enterprise. Such democratizing of the benefits of political power would thwart any criticism that the DLP leadership is engaged in some self-serving gold rush; in the words of one Carnival 2007 calypsonian “they and their posse making all their money and living in luxury.”
Such fostering of private enterprise among our people is the birthing of a new socialism. The old socialist models were too inclined toward dependence on the state, fearful of private enterprise and individual innovation. That dependency bred a “gimme something free” mentality. Freedom, like development, is not free. We must work hard, spur innovation and private enterprise, to make a better country. And where the private sector is unwilling or unable to act, the government must build Government Linked Companies to ensure our rise, as with the proposed One Dominica! card. It will be our local and Diaspora version of American Express.
Beware – Rising Expectations: A Double Edge Sword
Dominica is a middle-income country or one where the masses aspire to middle class values. Via media conditioning most Dominicans aim for a U.S. lifestyle, even where our economic performance cannot afford it. Such unmet expectations provide fertile ground for those who seek discord or to topple the government. In essence it is a double edge sword. In 1979 it must be noted that it was the same middle class (and its children) which was brought into existence by DLP land reform, education, and job opportunities which turned against it in protest at perceived corruption and economic malaise. However, the DLP, the grandfather of all Dominican political parties, has always dominated a significant portion of the political sphere (at its nadir in 1979-1980, the party could still garner a third to forty percent of the vote between the Patrick John’s Dominica Labour Party and O.J. Seraphine Democratic Labour Party). Still it resided in the political wilderness until 2000 and the civic political alliance, premised on good governance, which it led to power. However, three factors are what consolidates any party or group in power, where there is a literate population weaned on the values and principles of social democracy; they are: Competence, Loyalty and Integrity. Absent adhesion to these three principles, defeat is certain.
So, all is not well in the country. Many continue to leave the island, unemployment is high, and morale among key sectors is low.. The 2000 electoral alliance is now fraying at the edges and things could go south, where left unattended. The ravages of Hurricane Dean, the impending closure of Dominica Coconut Products, the loss of farm production due to Dean all threaten to put pressure on the GoCD. However, the GoCD has much goodwill at home, in the Diaspora and among elements of the intelligentsia and business class; not to mention some strong foreign allies. With good management of relationships such as those noted, with a decisive and clearly stated plan of action, we can and will attain victory, with God’s grace. The progressive forces must be mindful of that history and our challenges. We must be frank and welcome change and constructive criticism directed at gaining victory. We must act with wisdom and dispatch to mobilize the party, people and government for this march to victory, as the follows
* Mobilize the party and non-party talent to the government agenda
* Create a competent administrative team of Project Enablers
* Tackle Unemployment
* Empower the Cadet Corps with Industrial & Agricultural enterprise
* Diversify the economy
* Create a new financial markets trading sector
* Encourage overseas Dominicans to invest
* Build links with resource people in the DFP, UWP and PDM
* Encourage more investment from friendly countries
* Build a signature – GLC Hotel – The Independence
* Build a Jet Port in league with Venezuela or appropriate ally
* Retool new markets and products for a revived Dominica Coconut Products
In 1979-1980 the party was weak and demobilized. This is a creeping reality now, as then. Many Dominicans are leaving or are unemployed. We need to mobilize our party and people by putting people to work on national reconstruction projects. Where we can get some funding from innovations such as the One Dominica! credit or benefits card, a Free Port Zone to spur investment, under ALBA, or other non-traditional sources we can mobilize Dominicans:
* To rebuild damaged homes
* Build new homes
* Repair roads
* Build new businesses
ADMINISTRATION IS KEY: The GoCD lacks the ability to juice the very good relations the Prime Minister has built. A competent administrative to enable projects and to complete them must be built now. Things are contemplated by the PM but remain undone because the civil service is not performing at the requisite level, morale is low and some ministers are not responsive to their constituents or the needs of the country. Though well meaning, the ministerial capability leaves much to be desired and many ministers have not fostered good working relations with each other. There is too much mistrust, some use of profanity and non-coordination between ministers who should work as fingers on one hand. As a result the work is left undone and both party and country suffers. Too many speak and few are willing or competent to act. Appointment of “can-do” people to serve GoCD special projects is a must lest we face defeat. The PM knows that there are people who can assist where asked. The particular project is chosen, the team leader appointed and the minister advised to give that person all the resources to have the work accomplished in the national interest. Self interest and arrogance must yield to the national interest here as things are not being done promptly or at all.
* Build a new fishing fleet (we can get at least 6 fishing vessels with the assistance of friends and maximize the fish storage centers now built. The GoCD can set a marine GLC and lease boat to spur regional trade with Captain’s Avril or Wade in charge; we may be able to lease a ship with a crew from a friendly country; reflag it with a Dominican flag and new name; carry people and cargo to the French territories, USVI, BVI, St. Martin etc. in a dramatic new statement of determination to maximize our inter-island trade in agriculture and other Dominican made exportables. These should include electronic products assembled by the proposed Dominica Cadet Corps Industries.
* Employment – Show case the Independence Hotel and the Free Zone: Build the Independence Hotel on a piece of government land with Gaviota’s help. This would be a blitz project to accommodate the thousands of visitors coming for Reunion 2008. The Dominican nation would get a boost to its morale to partner with the Cubans who can get things done promptly. Where we work in partnership with Gaviota, it would boost our work ethic, inspire our young, impress our visitors, and be a facility where we could pre-sell the rooms via a website with a computer rendition of the completed hotel and its associated constellation of Free Zone shops arrayed around it in semi-circular or rectangular fashion as a pedestrian only street-mall. That Free Zone would host Southeast Asian cost-competitive products stores, each one a GLC enterprise. Such a zone would allow the Martinique and Guadeloupe ferries to increase their passengers bound for Dominica and we could attract visitors from other islands where we have products which they do not have. The Nature Island Industries office in southern China is ready to attract such businesses from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore where given the relevant mandate. We also have links with an emerging India which could populate this Free Zone Port Zone (FPZ). We would also encourage Diaspora businesses to locate in the FPZ. Such an FPZ would add a new income stream for the GoCD. It would also be a training center to train our people in general enterprise, marketing, customer service, IT, hotel and hospitality management. We would revive our old relations with the University of New Orleans (UNO) and other technical resources within our reach initiated in the 2000 US visit with Comrade Rosie to help on the training aspect.
* Geothermal Company – Must be a GLC. The geothermal and other renewable energy initiatives such as wind farms should be GLC type operations. Without a prompt acceptance of the philosophy that we should not place our energy sector in expatriate hands, the GoCD will lose the impetus necessary to develop the country or retain state power by the DLP. Loss of this opportunity to regain a key income source for the GoCD and link it with the potential for exportability to the French territories is untenable as it would disregard the noble efforts of those in CEC and predecessor organizations who sought a nationalist agenda in energy. It would be a misstep of historic proportions to cede our energy independence to some expatriate entity with no proven track record of development work on Dominica, while at the same time benefiting from assistance from countries like China, Venezuela and Cuba which control their energy sectors for indigenous development. The GoCD would encourage local enterprise by giving CEC a role to play in the GLC commensurate with its proven ability to proven renewable science and link it with the national development effort.
* Housing Revolution- Housing delays undermine the GoCD and its support base. The proposal for a housing factory in Dominica is promoted here. That factory would provide jobs long term and allow Dominica to dominate the OECS market and the have some export capacity to the French islands. We must reverse the perception that we are simply selling our aggregate to the one French concern for a pittance; many call it corrupt and the GoCD will have the devil to pay during the next election where our income from such quarry sales do little for the national treasury. We must retain our nationalist philosophy and ensure that the national wealth is directed well. To that end we would have value-adding to our quarry systems where we have a panel housing plant which uses local aggregate, value adds to it, then exports it. LSBF has such a proposal and it would be for a GLC to be formed. That modality is always the best as it increases GoCD’s income earning potential.
* Singapore – Malaysia – The PM should seek technical assistance for GLC formation from both countries and assign a serious comrade to attend the Commonwealth Conference to approach these leaders on that aspect of economic development. Further that, as part of their technical assistance program, they assign someone to work with us on work force development, sustainable agriculture, agro industry, light industry, public management and the DSC.
* Community radio Station: Get assistance from our Venezuelan allies to set up one or two inexpensive community based radio stations to inspire people away from the negativity on other radio stations.
* Website for the DLP – The DLP website should be set up soonest.
* Launch Dominica Cadet Corps Industries (DCI). The theme ‘every school a factory-every school a farm” is key to our survival as we strive to inspire kids to become electronic engineers, mariners, fishing experts, hi-tech farmers and all round patriots committed to the rise of our island. This project can be launched before independence or around independence and be an early indicator that the GoCD is determined not to accept a “business as usual” approach of a mono-crop non-industrial economy. We must tie education to patriotic endeavor and work force development directed at Dominica’s progress – not as an incubator to export our people to enrich other lands. At this time the political directorate seems unclear as to the role of a disciplined youth cadre such as the DCC to our national development. As OECS Chair, this would be a signature project for the PM. Too many of our young are mired in drugs and indiscipline and this project would get them to work in manner never contemplated prior. The cadets are the most committed youth cohort and showed their worth during Hurricane Dean. The program is poorly sponsored and its leadership has need for a better coordination and support from the GoCD to survive and thrive. Much of what has been done has been on a shoe string, with little input from GoCD on what is an organization essential to the security and development of the state. Without close working relations and support between the DCC and the GoCD leadership the program will fail.
* Financial Markets: Jones and Albert Murphy are two accomplished Dominicans who can be called upon to advise and assist on new initiatives in financial markets development for Dominica. Once the GLC system gets going we want to be able to encourage Dominicans at home and abroad to invest in local and international business. Where the government can be party to the construction of that sector it would blaze a trail. Financial education of our people, at home and abroad, would be key to our success in accessing the international world of finance and the Jones brothers are successful financial market experts who can assist us. Their presence on the GoCD’s side in this march would be a boost to our capacity to get things done.
* Reunion 2008 and ReUniteDA.com: We can mobilize Dominicans abroad to network, via the internet partnership website called “ReuniteDA.com” that will link every town, village and hamlet with those overseas, to promote and sell our products and culture. This would be a partnership led by the Ministry of Community development and Finance. Key to its success would be the appointment of dozens of Development Agents.
* Diaspora and Development Agents: The Diasporan is Dominica’s main investor of sustainable capital flows at this time – aside from the major aid donors. Yet we do not see enough partnership between the GoCD to harness the value of that sector. Diaspora investors have to appeal directly to the leadership, and even then much time, expense and delay is met. This is a universal complaint. One way to address this is to set up streamlined and effective machinery to draw upon the skills and resources of our people who are dedicated to the long term survival of our country.
* The Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences and the GoCD: We must insist on better management of beneficial relations between the GoCD, DAAS and other overseas organization, on an institutional basis. How many GoCD functionaries know of the most dynamic website about any Caribbean botanic gardens as was done by the DAAS for Dominica’s Botanic Gardens at www.da-academy.org/dagardens. How many GoCD functionaries are aware of the Skills Data Base of the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences? See www.da-academy.org/directory ? How many know of the archiving of the symposiums held with GoCD support, to include the first symposium attended in 2001 by Ministers Skerrit and Henderson in New York in 2001. See www.da-academy.org/sympaper. How many people in the GoCD know that the first and only website for the Dominica State College was created by the DAAS? See www.da-academy.org/dacollege. The DAAS’ contribution to nation building can be viewed at www.da-academy.org/daaschronicle02. The DAAS now links all government websites and once hosted the GocD GIS website until recently. The history of partnership shows the value of such collaboration, from schoolbooks and copiers donated, to bed sheets and medicines sent to the PMH valued at tens of thousands of dollars over the past seven years. In an increasingly internet driven global economy, the DAAS created what was the first online academy in the world of its kind and worked with the Roosevelt Douglas Foundation to inspire the Diaspora to new heights of contribution and patriotic endeavor. We must work to build on that link and its rich legacy.
* As a non-profit the DAAS has international reach and has played in an invaluable role in marketing Dominica, rendering assistance to Dominica in time of need, such as during the recent Hurricane Dean when it, along with its affiliate www.thedominincan.net , provided Dominicans and others worldwide with news of our island. It was built a space for national development endeavors in the area of arts and sciences. Prior most internet usage was gossip driven, personal in nature and bereft of much nation building direction. While there are those who seek to use the platform for narrow sectarian or personal ends, this should not negate the development mission and the message of unity we pursue. Granted the foregoing, our efforts can only bear good fruit where all arms of government see the DAAS as an ally in our forward march as a people.
* DAAS Founders: the DAAS was built with the effort of people who are supportive of the independence movement and the philosophy associated therewith. However, we have worked with very little, and often ambivalent official support – except at the highest level. That support needs be broadened up and down the chain of command and in the farthest reaches of the GoCD. That way we work as partners for development.
* Development Agents (DAs)must be appointed all over the world to drive business and technology our way. The GoCD can draw up the list of DA’s and invite them to a swearing ceremony convened by the PM in every city he visits and in Dominica during independence. They would be given a very carefully crafted mandate in agriculture, light industry, marketing, finance, IT, etc. and provided with a structure of country Chief of Section and a local Director to coordinate this massive effort to build a new Dominican economy. Leaving investment to a small coterie of the well connected or consultants would be a fundamental and fatal error by the GoCD, as it has never worked. The newly industrialized Asian tigers grew where they mobilized their overseas students, professionals, entrepreneurs and overall Diaspora for development. The Indians, Jews, Chinese and Koreans developed where the fervor of their overseas and local communities was born of joint patriotic commitment. At this time we are on the brink of losing the fervor of the Diaspora movement and must strive to avoid that. The DA could not bind the GoCD by contract, would be volunteers with an “Invest in Dominica” mandate and would be paid a commission equivalent to a mutually agreeable % of the investment they generate or be encouraged to be party to the projects they promote. A benefits package could be crafted with in-kind opportunities. Most of our people are not now engaged and reside in the spectators’ gallery where they become corrosive critics or demoralizing do-nothings. . The DAs can be a good assistants to our now very-weak diplomatic and investment promotion outreach.
* Appoint Resource People from the Opposition: Employment is useful for everyone. We must select resource persons, especially in media or the professions, who can work to build the country. This shows that the GoCD has the confidence to work with opponents and dilutes the venom which can be spewed by those bitter at being cut-off from survival with dignity. Commitment to national development by our opponents is a virtue where we embrace them in common effort. Appointment of volunteers such as Rupert Sorhaindo to the position of Chief Scientist, with the mandate to locate scientific relations with China, Cuba, US, UK, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia is a must. He could then appoint Science Directors (e.g. Science Director Asia, Science Director India) for regions and coordinate them.
* Technology Center & Patent Office: The Science Directors would seek to draw on these countries experience and promote an annual fair/conference on compatible technology to be held in Dominica. The site would be a permanent science center in Portsmouth called “TechnoTron” and would be a Dominica centered- scientific research development oriented facility in league with the DSC and DAAS to spur Dominica’s quest for sustainable technology. It would host our best minds at home and abroad and have a patent office to protect the intellectual property created there. Attorney Fred Samuels, a well regarded DC engineer/patent lawyer is prepared to assist this effort of developing Dominica’s first Patent Office. Innovation without a Patent Office or system is futile. We have innovative people at home and abroad and such an office would be a dramatic demonstration of our efforts to build a first rate nation. Right now any innovation we realized might well be lost in the absence of an intellectual property framework which protects our intellectual workers. Such institution building can make Dominica the Athens of the OECS.
* Jetport – The GoCD must champion the jetport and do so well in advance of any poll. Dominica will be unable to draw much investment where access by air is problematic. We can do it with our foreign allies or BOT with a major developer.
* Diplomatic Outreach: Appoint Special Envoys to source new relations in the USA, Canada, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Give them a short list, require that they provide monthly reports to the PM and Foreign Affairs. Insist that they must produce by promoting Dominica and driving investment our way. In these countries we must attract not only investment from the governments but from their private sectors and resource people who may either bring finance or know-how to Dominica. To that end all our diplomats must focus – like laser beams – on attracting scientific minds to settle or work with our country; hence the need to have a Chief Scientist and Science Directors, so as to promote new industries in Dominica such agro industry, IT, fish drying and canning, hi-tech agriculture and renewable energy systems.
* The Party need to study the income development strategies of Singapore’s PAP and meets more regularly. The old and new party segments must bond. Old party heads should be honored at a party dinner and awarded medals for their service.
* Friendship Societies must be formed to bolster the relations with Venezuela, China, India, South Africa, Iceland, the Nordic countries and Cuba. We must appreciate that such societies are displays of gratitude which will enhance our relations with these countries. We should also not forget the political links and strive to build party relations where possible or prudent.
* Freeport Zone – One be set up soonest to maximize our opportunities between two Euro French territories.
All the above requires diligent relationship building. Too often we falter where we lack the tact or nuance to encourage others, inspire others, show sincere friendship, speak well of others, or give credit to those who merit it. Backbiting and jealousy must be banished as it has crippled our people and country for too long. Let us then appeal to the better angels of each others nature. Relationship building and adherence to the principles of meritocracy will enhance the chances for victory. Cutting loose from the base or isolating those who try to help, have helped, or are trying to help is a recipe for disaster.
These views are shared by many of our supporters and need to be reflected and acted upon. While the above may seem like starry eyed idealism, it is idealism which has advanced civilization. We need to mobilize based on the common understanding that we are in pursuit of noble goals. We are committed to victory for our country and will work for it.
Whatever the excuses, the suit by Henry “Babs” Dyer should and could have been deflected by robust mediation between him and top party leaders. He and his family are old party supporters and his move over to the critics’ gallery or into the law courts do not help the national development process. While it may be easy to be dismissive about his subjective failings, it does not add to the government’s support base but subtracts from it.
It was the Dominica Federation of Students and its allies led by Gabriel Christian, Alick Lawrence, Angus Aulard, Romus Lamothe, Steve John, Debbie Douglas, Irving Andre, Erickson Romaine, Clement “Baba” Richards, Paul Toulon, Eddie Toulon, Maurison Thomas, Bentley, Kervin and Ken Linton, and others which provided much critical support to the DLP’s drive for independence in 1976-1978 period.
The Edward LeBlanc Foundation (ELF) would be a non-profit friendly to the DLP philosophy. The ELF would host some DLP functions around independence time in particular, and thus throw a wide net to encourage attendance by non-party members. The DLP would be dedicated to the promotion of Dominica’s cultural and political heritage of national independence. For that reason it would honor two women leaders: Phyliss Shand Allfrey and Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, alongside Rosie and Pierro who should be declared National Heroes by 2007 or 2008 Independence Day. There photos should hang at all Labour meetings, alongside Emmanuel Loblack and so allow our image to be embracing of different strands of our nationalism. Though Dame Charles was an opponent of LeBlanc, we must recognize her achievements and show respect to her memory. In so doing we enhance our national appeal. It would be a partner to the Rosie Douglas Foundation. It would hold annual dinners, where persons involved in the development of Dominica’s culture; national development and national independence movement are honored without regard to party affiliation. In so doing it would raise funds which could assist worthy national projects.
It would be owned by a party offshoot owning 51% and the other 49% owned by the participating financial institution of the GoCD. The percentage ownership is not fixed but should not allow for GoCD majority shares and so subject private initiative to potential bureaucratic inertia. Revenue share may still be crafted to allow majority GoCD earnings for a term certain – despite its minority ownership.
GLC=Government Linked Company – a public private entity with 49% GoCD ownership. The GoCD must create a constellation of GLC soonest to rebuild its income base and provide a platform to employ our young where the private sector is too weak, shortsighted or anemic to do same. In the aftermath of the IMF contraction of public sector spending, we must strive to create sources of public sector funding lest we remain perpetually dependent on foreign aid.
The Dominica Labour Party, which evolved from the Dominica Trade Union (formed in 1945), was formed in 1955.
Even with the Waiti Kubuli Trail some recognition should be given to Bernard Wiltshire’s vision which inspired it in part. Some way should be found to incorporate whatever value he brings to the table. To do so encourages others and works a gloss that benefits the GoCD’s; it also displays magnanimity.