New CTO Appointment
Economics of Going Green
State of Caribbean Media
Passport to Paradise
Death Sentence in 2 Years
Priest Thinks Twice
Charges & CounterCharges
Communication in Tourism
Moves to Oust Savarin
WIBC Settles with Gregory
UWP Leadership Question
Threat to State College?
Why Marpin Was Rejected
Sanford Now In Barbados
Hotels Threaten Shutdown
Urban Baron to Cross Floor
Lestrade & Stabilisation
Urban Baron Did Not Cross
PM Charles Tightens Grip
Search for New President
Tension at N.D.C.
New Independent Party?
AT & T in Dominica
Curtis Matthiew - DFP?
Sonia Williams - Indep...
SARS in Toronto, Canada
Bobby - Independent?
Casino Gambling Begins
Formal Opening of DSC
End of Douglas Dynasty?
Wage Bill Cut
DLP Want Theodore Fired
DFP Virtually Dead
PM's Fiscal Adjustment
Dr Etienne to PAHO
Relations with China?
Sam Raphael Resigns
Tour de Dominica Politics
PJ on Independence
Politics 25 Years Later
Cure For Aids Mooted
DSS Stymied by IMF
New Development at CTO
The Silent Killer
Grenada & Hurricane Ivan
Regional Tourism Security
Making Millions on Haitians
UWP Falling Apart
© Johnson JohnRose
PJ On Independence - 25 Years Later
Nov. 01/2003: - On August 29th, 1976, at his Dominica Labour Party's convention in Salisbury, Premier Patrick Roland "PJ" John issued the Salisbury Declaration, outlining his government's intention to take the country into independence.
"I got up one morning feeling very, very frustrated," John told the Sun in a recent interview.
His frustration was with the British government and the manner in which London dealt with the colony's attempts at economic self-sufficiency.
"As premier I wanted to move and make friend with other countries and to seek assistance for my people. The British would not allow that. I had to tell them when I wanted to go (visit another country) and they would tell me if I could or could not go," said John as he reflected on the relationship.
"I went to Venezuela and they bestowed an honour upon me. The British said I could accept the honour but not wear the clothes.
"I wanted to pursue relationship with France and the British didn't allow it.
"For me to get a road I had to prove it was viable for agriculture. If it were a road to serve people, to join two communities they would say no, it is a social road.
"I felt we were enslaved, and to move forward we had to pursue independence, thus the Salisbury declaration," he said
John dreamed of a country that would be self reliant, where the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter were met comfortably, with agriculture as the main platform for economic growth, and with a people of sound mind in a healthy body.
In the twenty-five years since he led Dominica into independence on November 3rd, 1978, John said that the country has made some progress in a number of areas.
"I think in the line of communication, education, medicine, we have moved far in those areas. Our health services, at one time were the best in the Caribbean. Our out patient service (health) is one of the best in the Caribbean (although) the in-service is poor (and) our culture is booming," boasted the former Prime Minister who was forced out of office less than a year after Dominica gained political independence from Britain.
However, John complained that there were too many areas where the country had remained stagnant.
He cited diversification of the agricultural sector, which he said, had been on the lips of every government and not in their hearts; and the human resource, which he said, remained mostly untapped.
"For 25 years we have been hearing about diversification, but nothing is done. Nothing is done to tap the Caribbean market. Our agriculture potential is such that we can feed all the Windward Islands. We have to stop singing diversification and start acting.
"We've got water, (yet) Trinidad is exporting to Dominica. Although I respect the CARICOM treaty, Dominica should dominate in terms of supplying water, yet our water flows everyday to the sea.
"Other areas like geothermal and our human resources, we are not utilising that. So we find ourselves sitting in a corner and waiting for a fairy god mother to take us out of the morass that we are in," he said.
John also said that he was saddened that there appeared to be very little change to people's attitudes towards work and development and the type of independence that he envisaged for the country twenty-five years ago.
"But what bothers me is that the attitude of the people hasn't changed. Our people still believe that we have to exist on handouts. We continue to live from day to day, going to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), etc. when we can do things for ourselves," the former Prime Minister observed.
Dominica's first Prime Minister, in his day a bitter critic of his nemesis at the time Eugenia Charles (now Dame Eugenia), also observed very little improvement in the way politicians behave as the country observes its silver jubilee.
He said that he was concerned that today's leaders still practice yesterday's "petty politics" while the country suffered.
"After 25 years, I think there is too much bickering among the political parties. Too much blame game. I think we should have passed that stage.
"After 25 year we should have grown out of the politic which I and (former Premier Edward) Leblanc and Mamo (Dame Eugenia) were involved in. Now that we have more educated people I believe that our leaders should stop behaving like babies and start acting like grown men," he advised.
Moving forward into the next twenty-five years, John offered a simple recipe that he said would lead into progress and true independence for the people of Dominica.
"Stop the blame game. The only way Dominica can move forward (is for) both opposition and government to reach common ground. The Prime Minister should take the initiative and call the leader of the opposition to discuss how to reach common ground," was his recommendation.
And, considering that he had not realised his vision for the country, if he had to do it again, would he accept the responsibility and become Prime Minister?
"This thing has a lot of prestige in it but is a thankless job. If God had to give me a choice to come back or to take something else, I would take something else. But, if I had to do it and could achieve some of the things that I outlined, that is what I would do," John affirmed.