Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
It was with great regret and deep sorrow that we at the OECS Secretariat learnt on the evening of Tuesday, 6th January of the untimely death of the Honourable Pierre Charles, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica. We join all Dominicans in mourning his passing.
The Hon. Pierre Charles died at the relatively young age of 49. He acceded to the Prime Ministership of Dominica some three years ago, following a similarly tragic and unexpected event, the passing of then Prime Minister, Hon. Rosie Douglas.
As Prime Minister, the Hon. Pierre Charles assumed the leadership of Dominica at a most critical juncture in the development and history of that country. His quiet fortitude, strength of character, forthrightness, commitment and dedication, yet personal gentleness and gentility were all features that marked his approach to the tasks with which he was entrusted. He was able to shepherd his country through some of its most perilous economic challenges, and although circumstances are still difficult, he was able to lay down the groundwork for stabilizing the situation and create the basis for eventual return to sustainable growth. In this process, his personal attributes were able to win the confidence of his people, as shown by their willingness to make the sacrifices required to achieve the national objectives.
Prime Minister Charles exhibited not only great political courage, but also personal courage in his leadership efforts. Notwithstanding his awareness of his sensitive health condition, he led by example, and soldiered on in the face of the threat to his continued good health. His was the ultimate sacrifice.
We applaud the courage and dedication which he demonstrated in his lifelong commitment to the service of his people and his country. Personal goals and gains took second place to service, and no potential price was too great to pay for the good of his country. In his own words - "if it is for the good of the country, it must be done." This was the motto by which he lived, and died.
He was firmly committed to the processes and goals of regional integration, especially the initiative to establish an OECS Economic Union. His vision on this was clear, and was reinforced by his country's economic experiences. As a Member of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Economic Union, he provided significant guidance to the process.
His early passing is therefore a loss not only to his family and the people of Dominica, but to the OECS as well as the wider Caribbean. He shall be sadly missed.
May he rest in the peace he so richly deserves.
PM Keith Mitchell
Prime Minister of Grenada
January 7, 2004: - Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has expressed sadness over the sudden passing, on Tuesday, of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Pierre Charles.
Speaking to the Government Information Service today (Wednesday, January 7), Prime Minister Mitchell said that Mr. Charles was a valiant friend of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and a committed and patriotic exponent of Regional Integration “I must express the fact that we are deeply shocked at the untimely passing of Prime Minister Pierre Charles of Dominica. It is very rare in one’s life that you would find a situation within the space of two years that two Prime Ministers from one particular country die suddenly in Office. In view of this, and given the serious financial situation, it really calls now for greater unity of the people of Dominica in every sense of the word, as well as support from the Caribbean Region in these difficult times for Dominica.
I saw Prime Minister Charles as someone who demonstrated commitment to his Country and to Regional Integration. Despite the fact that he did not campaign for this job and, in fact, had to inherit it due to the untimely passing of former Prime Minister Rosie Douglas, he literally gave of his best. While they were coming to grips with their financial problems, and the recent announcement by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) of some support dealing with the financial situation in Dominica, it is very unfortunate that Mr. Charles had to depart at this particular time. But, of course, the Almighty knows best.
Each and every one of us needs to understand that we are here upon this earth for a very short time and that we should use every opportunity to make a contribution to mankind. It is a message for every single one of us to spend less time on hate, hurt, pain and destruction, and spend more time on building love and unity.
This is why in our own country, Grenada, we’ve been calling on all persons, whether they are supporters of the Government or not, to unify to build our Country. Each of us should leave this earth feeling that we have made the contribution that God put us here to make.”
Prime Minister Mitchell, who is a strong advocate of Regional Integration, is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of CARICOM as of July 1, 2004. The Prime Minister further commented on the passing of Prime Minister Charles, in the context of the integration movement.
“Every time you have the untimely passing of somebody in a strategic position, particularly as it relates to the success, in this case, of the Regional Integration movement, certainly it does affect it somewhat. But I have always held the view that the Regional Integration movement is not about any particular individual. It is something that all of us must do. It is my belief that who ever takes over the Office of Prime Minister of Dominica, will continue the work of the late Pierre Charles and his predecessor, the late Rosie Douglas, and others who traversed this path before in advancing the process of Regional Integration.”
Statement by Dr Kenny Anthony
Prime Minister of St. Lucia
It was with deepest regret that I received news last night of the untimely passing of Prime Minister Pierre Charles of the Commonwealth of Dominica. In addition to being colleague Prime Ministers, Hon. Pierre Charles was also a personal friend of mine. We went back a long way and I will miss him greatly. I will especially miss his quiet dignity.
With the passing of Prime Minister Charles, the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica have had the extraordinary experience of having two successive prime ministers die in office in just over three years. Their grief must be overwhelming.
At times such as these expressions of condolence seem insufficient. But the citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica are a resilient people who I am sure will derive some tiny grain of comfort in knowing that their deceased Prime Minister was well-thought of throughout the Caribbean and the wider world as a courageous, dedicated and competent leader.
Succeeding former Prime Minister Roosevelt Rosie Douglas, though in itself a daunting task did not bother Pierre Charles. He knew the difficulties ahead but accepted the responsibility to serve and protect the people of his beloved Dominica.
His courageous decision to enter into a necessary but locally painful agreement with the International Monetary Fund proved beyond a shadow of a doubt his absolute disdain for "politics as usual". He accepted that he had to pay a political price for the greater good of his people and country. It cannot be easy for leader to embrace IMF-inspired policies and prescriptions. Pierre Charles did, confident that it was in the best interest of his country.
The high office of Prime Minister did not change Pierre Charles. Throughout his tenure, he remained the same humble, sincere and self-effacing individual who had entered politics more than twenty years ago.
The people of Grand Bay, the constituency he represented with such distinction for nearly two decades will, I am sure, remember him fondly. They will remember him as a people's person who never lost touch with the common man. They will remember a representative who never made promises he could not fulfil. Above all, they will remember him as a man whose commitment to service was legendary. That is how I, too, will remember my departed colleague.
Despite his health problems Pierre did not shirk from his responsibility of serving his nation. And while the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica may consider the world a heartless place for taking yet another of their beloved Prime Ministers away in such a short space of time, they can take comfort in knowing that Pierre is free from his pain and suffering.
To his wife and children, on behalf of the government and people of Saint Lucia please accept our heartfelt condolences on the passing of a beloved husband and dear father.
To the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia shares your pain and like you will shed tears for a decent and humble man. Take courage, knowing that the work which Prime Minister Charles started will redound to the benefit of the nation.
For our part, and as a mark of respect to an outstanding Caribbean leader, I have instructed that all flags be flown at half staff for three days, beginning today.
Pierre Charles died for his country. May his soul rest in peace.
PM Charles sacrificed his life for Dominica
P.M. of St. Kitts, Denzil Douglas
“Dominica has lost another of its cherished sons who was not only a colleague in terms of Caribbean leadership, but a personal friend of mine and a friend of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Prime Minister, Denzil L. Douglas, Wednesday, reacting to the sudden death Tuesday night of his Dominican counterpart, the late Prime Minister, Pierre Charles.
“It is very unfortunate, because Prime Minister Charles was so young. He was only 49 years old and I am sure that this must have a devastating effect on his wife and family and of course, the people of Dominica, whom he led for the last three years,” said Dr. Douglas in an interview with VON Radio’s Marcellus Lee.
Dr. Douglas said the Caribbean Community leaders would miss Prime Minister Charles “mainly because he was so much of a gentleman.”
“If there was anyone of us who can be described as not capable of even killing a fly, that would go to him. He was very quiet, very reserved and a real gentleman, and to see him pass in this way is really sad,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister in the telephone interview from his residence in St. Paul’s, St. Kitts.
“When after the September 11th crisis triggered by the terrorist attack and we met to look at the effects of the terrorist activity on the economies of the Caribbean, and we looked specifically at the situation in Dominica, ... he said then and openly that he was prepared to put in place the necessary adjustment mechanisms and structures in Dominica that would reverse the economy, even though it meant being out of power,” responded Prime Minister Douglas, when asked of the fond memories he would recall at CARICOM Meetings.
“I myself at that time challenged him, and he meant what he said. He put the country first. And really his life has been a sacrifice, because despite his own physical limitations, despite the ailments which were obvious, he still persevered in carrying out his public tasks,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who stressed the need for leaders to “look after ourselves as well, in the sense that we must make sure that we do not sacrifice our own lives.”
“He definitely put that country first and even if it meant losing power. And here it is, not even losing power, it is losing his life and I have the utmost respect for him,” said Prime Minister Douglas, whose St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party and Charles’ Dominica Labour Party are fraternal parties.
"Duty and Integrity... Dominica at Its Best"
"Duty and integrity..... Dominica at its best". Yes Pierro You are my Hero! The Late Prime Minister, The Hon. Pierre Charles was a rarity in the cut-throat political climate of Dominica. The Hon. Pierre Charles was someone who was gracious, respectful and witty in both victory and defeat.
Pierro was an honest man. He was a solid politician of integrity; a decent and effective man of modesty and humility. Pierro was just 17 years old , and he was already a leader in his beloved community of Grand Bay. His success in Grand Bay is virtually undisputed. The formation of work and study groups. The Library, as founder of L'eschelle, and later chairman of the Grand Bay village council, and his involvement in numerous self help projects in the Village of Grand Bay. The community centre, the Hagley road, the Highland road, Ma tutu's park , and the list goes on.
But when it came time to talk about the most important things in his life; his big picture in sights, he talked, as many do, not his job, but those closest to him. The death of the Late Prime Minister, The Hon. Pierre Charles is a great loss to his family, his community, Grand Bay and to Dominica. Deceny is a word that comes to most people when they think of Pierro. A man who would give you his shirt off his back. One of my many memories of Pierro dates back to 1979, to see him, along with my uncles during hurricane David with hammer in hand going from house to house, knocking on doors, checking on the people in the village, to ensure that everyone is ok, with no concern of their own safety.
He was a man of genuine humour rather than mere wit, of a generous rather than venomous mind, of public rather than partisan instincts. For his entire life was devoted to the uplifting of his people, Grand Bay, and Dominica by extention. He never shy away from doing what is right for his people. I remember as a former student of his, he was strict, but fair. A man who always believed in us, when everyone else thought Grand Bay was a throw-away society. He always stated, "that the Youths has lots of energy, we must find a way to re-direct that energy into a positive good for the community". Pierro I know you will rest knowing that you accomplished your goal.
He provided leadership, when there was none, He was the needle and thread that sew the fabric of Grand Bay society together when it was falling apart. Always leading by example. A true patriot. A Hero, a Roots Man, a Son of the soil. You have made us all proud. Yes we will hold up our heads up high, and say Thank you very much Pierro. We are proud to be Grand Bayrians. To ma franco, " Merci pou Pierro" . To Justina, thank you for sharing him with us, to Tshidi, Camilo and Faiza, be strong. I am sure he is looking over you all. On behalf of the Xavier Family, in Canada, England, and Dominica we extend our sympathies to Justina, Camilo, Tshidi, and Faiza and to his mother and father Mr and Mrs Francis Charles. May his soul rest in peace.
B (Harvey) Xavier, CHS