Foreign Relations

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

In the 1980s, the Dominican government became one of the strongest supporters of United States policies in the Caribbean. Charles endorsed economic measures such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative and favored support for the private sector (see Appendix D, and Economy, this section). The DFP government also promoted United States efforts to prevent the spread of communism in the Caribbean.

Ties between Dominica and the United States were solidified during the October 1983 crisis in Grenada. After the assassination of Grenadian leader Maurice Bishop, Charles convoked a meeting of the OECS to discuss the crisis. On October 21, the OECS decided to intervene in Grenada and invited friendly governments to provide military assistance. Charles then joined the prime ministers of Barbados and Jamaica in extending a formal invitation to the United States through special emissary Ambassador Frank McNeil. Charles joined President Ronald Reagan at the White House in the official announcement of the intervention and vigorously defended the action. Charles also addressed the Organization of American States and the United Nations (UN), insisting on both occasions that the intervention was necessary to stop communism.

Dominica's special relationship with the United States consisted of material as well as philosophical elements. Charles successfully pleaded with United States officials for funds to expand Dominica's infrastructure. In the 1980s, the United States provided approximately US$10 million in grants to expand the east Dominica electrification program and rehabilitate the highway linking the capital to Dominica's international airport.

Dominica had deep historical and cultural ties to Britain and was a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Britain also provided economic assistance to the country and was the single largest recipient of Dominican exports. Despite these links, the Grenada intervention strained relations between Dominica and the Commonwealth. Leaders of African nations attending the Commonwealth Summit in New Delhi in November 1983 charged that the intervention had violated the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. Charles categorically rejected the African position and stated that the intervention was vital to the interests of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Charles also criticized British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for her initially hostile reaction to the Grenada intervention, accusing Thatcher of having turned her back on her friends.

The government also attempted to extend Dominica's international relations farther afield and strengthened diplomatic ties with both Taiwan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Taiwanese technicians have conducted an agricultural research program in Dominica and although no trade has developed between the two nations, Taiwan has supplied regular infusions of aid for small projects in schools, sporting facilities, and health services.

Relations within Caricom have been difficult as evidenced by the collapse of the Multilateral Clearing Facility, the creation of nontariff barriers between member states, the violation of rules of origin regulations (utilizing extra-regional garments, for example), and major difficulties over foreign policy (see Appendix C). Partly in response to these Caricom difficulties, Charles worked vigorously with the six other members of the OECS to strengthen that subregional grouping.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress