Updated: December 24, 2018

Demonstration in front of Dominican Consulate in New York City on 
Dec 22 2018 (Credit: 3D)

On December 15, 2018, Dominicans gathered in Roseau, Dominica were attempting to exercise their Democratic and Constitution rights to express their opinion on the need for electoral reform. The response of the misguided Labor Administration and the Police Hierarchy was to block access to the Office of the Dominica Electoral Commission. Subsequently, towards the end of the demonstration and in an attempt to terrorize participants, police officers in riot-gear saw it fit to hurl tear gas canisters at the peaceful demonstrators. Frighteningly, this anti-riot activity was been perpetrated on a peaceful gathering which was in close proximity to a facility with propane-filled cylinders; obviously, there was no understanding of Gas Expansion Law aka Charles' Law which explains how gas expands when heated. This could have been a disaster for many living in Roseau; fortunately it was not. However, the lives of many in Roseau, Dominica were jeopardized by the careless execution of  a dangerous action from Justice Minister Raymond Blackmore and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to the malleable Police Commissioner, Daniel Carbon.  Juxtapose this to the images of a protest in New York, on December 22, 2018, where Dominicans residing in the USA gathered in front of the Dominican Consulate in New York City to protest the direction of their homeland and need for electoral reform.  In New York, there were no Robo-Corps, no teargas and no bogus charges of 'incitement'.

So, what was accomplished in New York yesterday?  Some detractors will say nothing. However, an alternate effect is crystallizing. The protest accomplished at least two key objectives.  Firstly, the governing Administration and the Police hierarchy in Dominica were taught the lesson that in a Democracy, peaceful gathering and protest actions are protected. These right are fundamental and do not depend on the whims and fancy of a government or any other persons. In the USA, this is clearly understood by a majority, even when the message of the protest may be uncomfortable for a majority. In contrast, in Dominica, the 'pathetic' Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon believes Dominicans should ask him for the right to protest. Who the is this Carbon character?  He should go read the Dominica Constitution. Daniel Carbon, for your information, anyone can protest against your useless tenure as Police Commissioner or anything they wish to protest; compared to your predecessors, your are a disgrace to the position of Police Commissioner in Dominica. Above all, Mr Daniel Carbon, you should stop threatening Dominicans with 'Dire Consequences' for action you do not like or are outside of your control.

The second impact of the New York protest was to alert the International community of the atrocities being committed in Dominica by the Labor Party Administration; a group which believes that they are the only ones who can manage the affairs of Dominica and Dominicans and are wiling to do whatever it takes to stay in power. Based on interaction of the the Demonstrators in New York, the Community and the Police, two key aspects are notable. The Police do not see the Public as their enemy. Above all, the message was brought to the International Community that Dominica is in the midst of a transformation towards a Chinese- and Russian-style Dictatorship where is it 'OK' to use the Resources of the State to attack it citizens. Roosevelt Skerrit may not know much about Tienanmen Square Massacres or Vladimir Putin's taking out his opponents or persons exercising their democratic rights, but for the rest of the world these are clear stain on Human History. The New York Protest highlighted that the island is being run by a regime that has no respect for humanity and human rights! How else is does one explain the use of adulterated teargas against citizens? One week since the unfortunate use of tear gas on a peaceful demonstrators in Dominica and the health consequences on affected individuals continues.

Finally, like Concern Citizens movement (CCM) in Dominica, which has its genesis as a motivated group of Dominicans determined to ensure free and fair elections in their homeland, those who gathered in New York on December 22, 2018 have started the process of sensitizing the world about the types of persons in the Labor Administration to whom their taxpayers dollars are being entrusted for the purpose of enhancing recovery from Hurricane Maria and developing resiliency to climate change. If these individuals in the Dominica Labor Administration see no problems in violating the Fundamental rights and freedom of citizens on island, they will have no respect or obligation to International Donors. Indeed, we are starting to see this behavior take shape in the language developing around Road Network Rehabilitation and Housing Recovery in Dominica. In both cases, members of the Administration (Roosevelt Skerrit, Colin McIntyre and others) are now claiming that the work being done on some road rehabilitation and some of the housing projects have nothing to do with International donations; this is part of their re-election strategy. In a strange way, the fight for free and fair elections and electoral reform is now tied with International Aid. This should be an ongoing objective of the Dominican diaspora in North America and the European Union. Without fair elections, electoral reform to address misuse of government resources and transparency in government, non-essential aid to Dominica should be attenuated.