Dearest Dominican brothers and sisters, and honoured visitors to the Nature Isle!!!
The People’s Party of Dominica takes extreme pride in celebrating this auspicious occasion with you. The Commonwealth of Dominica is embarking on its 38th year, as a fully fledged sovereign nation!! A nation that has experienced nothing short of the searing pang of teething pain. Like a survivor, this land, once home to the largest Kalinago community in the Caribbean, has held its ground and is still standing upright in the face of whatever challenges are thrust her way.
The Commonwealth of Dominica embraced independence in 1978, with Patrick John, then Premier turned Prime Minister at the helm. Rivers of pride meandered through Dominica, as the defense force and police, scout troops and school children marched under a new banner and new colours that will never fade.
Dignitaries and well-wishers arrived in droves, and the Botanical Gardens was a sea of green, red, yellow and black. However, the fledgling sovereign state was to soon experience one of many tests, as reports of corruption swirled around the administration that led her to independence.
The following year, 1979, ushered in two turbulent events that are indelibly etched in the memory of every Dominican who witnessed them, and which changed the course of history. On May 29th, 1979, members of the Dominican Defense Force opened fire on a crowd of protesters, leaving one person dead and injuring others, some seriously.
Patrick John’s government collapsed; he was succeeded by Oliver Seraphin who led an Interim Government appointed by the President and tasked with governing the country until elections to be held within a specified period.
Event number two, Hurricane David, rocked the country and brought it to a standstill. Winds of over 160 miles per hour, combined with heavy rains and flooding, pulverized and swept away buildings, bridges and other landmarks. The Hurricane claimed over 50 Dominican souls, brothers and sisters who have left us, but who live on in our hearts and minds.
From 1979 till current, Dominica has ridden and has been ridden by the tides of success and failure, translucence and machinations. These have not deterred the national convivial spirit exhibited every year on November 3rd.
We would be doing it a disfavour should we fail to point out that this bountiful land could have been much better off economically and socially than it is today. Indeed, the celebrations do unify Dominicans across social, religious, political, and other lines.
However, the actions of the current DLP administration many times reflect major contradictions on the part of a government sworn to uphold the constitution and to promote transparency.
Indeed, some of these actions go against the grain and spirit of our Constitution and seek to, and in some cases, succeeds in nullifying its content.
Alas, we enter the 2016 Independence season with unemployment at twenty-five plus percent, a broken healthcare system, rocketing crime rates, and no tangible, substantial source of revenue. This current regime has created an over reliance on selling passports, which have become the “backbone” of our economy, the biggest money earner, according to a serving Minister of Government, dwarfing the economic contributions of the moribund agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
This practice is risky, could potentially cause instability and most likely create negative economic ripples, which could result in a sudden economic collapse. In spite of all this,
Dominicans remain a resilient people! A tried people! A people who, while being tested, stand steadfast as the country ploughs its way through uncharted, choppy waters and malevolent weather.
The good news is every storm has an ending, and every dark cloud, a silver lining. As Dominicans, let us return to the core values of selflessness, a love for land, and a caring for our neighbour. Let us realize that an over indulgence in materialism can only result in vulnerability to manipulation by the very powers we detest. Let us realize that change begins with ourselves, and only when we change that man, that woman, that boy, that girl in the mirror, can we then unshackle and develop this entire nation. An unshackled Dominica will usher in a new era of economic and social
prosperity, a time that will even eclipse that of the roaring 80’s and the very early 20th century.
To all Dominicans at home or abroad, we wish you a safe and joyful 2016 Independence celebration! We desire the very best for our nation and its people. We continue to prepare to serve and protect and to work vigorously towards the advancement of our nation and its people so as to bring about a more enlightened and vigilant people living in and working always for a truly INDEPENDENT nation!!!
May God bless and keep you all!!! MAY GOD BLESS OUR COUNTRY DOMINICA!!