Biography of Mary Eugenia Charles (1919-VVVV)

Lawyer and political Dominican born in Pointe Michel on May 15, 1919. He/She was Prime Minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1995. It has been considered a symbol of political stability and the independence of Dominica. By its authoritarian character was known with the names of the Iron Lady of the Caribbean or Lady Drácula.

He was born in a well-to-do family of Pointe Michel. at Dominica then belonged to the British Empire. His father from humble origins had become a rich landlord and a notable business man. When he/she was two years old he/she moved with his family to the capital of the island, Roseau. He/She was educated in the school of the convent of the Sisters of the faithful Virgin. He/She did his secondary studies in the same convent high school. Despite getting his title continued on to the institution one year while it decided what to do with their future. Shortly after he/she obtained a job as an officer in the Department of the Treasury. There he/she decided to undertake the studies of law. To prepare his entrance examination to the University it detained in secondary school that the religious order had on the island of Grenada. He/She made his university studies abroad. He/She studied law at the University of Toronto, which attended numerous students from the West Indies. Subsequently moved to the University of London to complete his legal studies. In October 1947 he/she approved the licensing exam. Charles returned to his country in 1950, where he/she began to practice law, a profession that was exercising for thirty years. While it was dedicated to this began to become involved in political affairs. Especially since 1967 when Dominica gained control of domestic politics, who was tapped by Prime Minister Edward LeBlanc to pass a law prohibiting that criticize the Government. Charles joined the popular movement that opposed the law. He/She organized many demonstrations in which made speeches which harshly criticized the Government. Along with his followers formed a new political party, the freedom party. However it did not get popular support, since he/she was considered an elite formation. His party was defeated by the labour party in the election the legislative body, after which it became the main leader of the opposition.

From his seat he/she promoted the development of tourism and the construction of low cost houses. In December 1970 he/she won a major political victory when his party won all the seats in the municipal Council of the city of Roseau. When in the mid-1970's radical blacks began to attack the properties of whites, Charles criticized these actions. He/She was again defeated by the labour party in 1975, where he/she got only five seats. In 1976 it supported Prime Minister Patrick R. John in your requests of independence, although he/she called the call for a referendum. Despite the fact that its proposal was rejected, it got to the Assembly accepted his idea of Dominica become a true Republic, without any relationship with the British monarchy.

In 1979 he/she was one of the leaders of the opposition who headed the demonstration held in the capital of the island, which called for the resignation of President Patrick R. John. When this resigned, Charles also showed their opposition to his successor, Oliver Seraphine, who failed to solve the serious economic and labour crisis. On 21 July 1980 was elected Prime Minister of his country, after winning his party in elections held that year, the democratic first celebrated in Dominica since her country achieved independence in 1978. His party, the Freedom Party, won 17 of the 21 seats in the Assembly. In the new Cabinet, he/she retained the ministries of finance and Foreign Affairs. His first act was to put in place a program of fight against unemployment and the development of commercial activity. In 1981, he/she had to face the ravages caused by hurricanes David and Allen on the island.

The economic crisis was employed by certain sectors of the armed forces to overthrow it. This situation led it to impose the State of emergency on September 13, 1981. Thanks to the help of the United States got dismantling an attempt to invade the island by a group of mercenaries in March 1982. In April arrested Patrick John, former Prime Minister, who had been behind the hit State and the attempted invasion. It promoted collaboration between the small countries of the Caribbean, made that considered it essential that they got their economic development, so that was one of the driving forces behind the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. With financial support from the United States, he/she began the construction of a modern ground communications network, which aim to strengthen tourism. Fervent anti-communist and declared proestadounidense, clearly supported the U.S. invasion of the neighbouring island of Grenada in October 1983, sending up there a small military contingent and appearing next to us President Ronald Reagan, at the press conference where he/she announced the invasion of the island. Thanks to your support, United States granted a soft loan for the electrification of rural areas of the country and to continue the modernization of the road network. Despite having managed to increase banana production, the country's main resource, the country's external debt grew enormously. He/She was re-elected by a wide margin in 1985. Its foreign policy became increasingly more conservative and embraced the Monroe doctrine, promoted by the United States to prevent subversive movements in the West.

Its position at the forefront of the country was reinforced in July 1987 when it attracted support from former Labour Deputy, Eden Durand. that same year he/she got the candidate of his party for mayor of Portsmouth, traditional labour stronghold, to get the victory. In 1988, he/she was attacked by the opposition, accusing it of wanting to establish a regime dictatorial tendency, by delaying the municipal elections that were held in the capital. In 1989 again supported United States in a new military action, this time the invasion of Panama, which became the only Caribbean country that did so. That same year he/she made a tour of Europe to try to ensure the export of local agricultural products before the advent of the single European Act, which came into force in 1993. At the beginning of the 1990s he/she managed to reduce inflation and unemployment to 2% to 4%. He/She said the legislative elections, which should take place in the fall of 1990, the month of May. His party won the election, but won a tiny majority, 11 of the 21 seats. In order to avoid the turncoat in their ranks, he/she increased his Cabinet until eleven ministries. In front of each placed one of its patido members.

At the end of 1990 he/she freed Patrick R. John who was imprisoned from 1985. In this way it was stop the popularity of Edison James, who in front of its unified workers party had obtained six seats in the last elections. In 1991 he/she joined his country of the Caribbean common market, but fearing that the large islands to take control of the Organization, pressured small countries of the area (Granada, San Vicente and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia) so that they form a common bloc within the organization. However delayed until 1992 referendum on the country's entry to the common market of the Caribbean. That same year, he/she saved a motion of censure by James silver.

To further develop the economy of the island, tried strengthen still further the tourist infrastructures, which began to build an international airport. It also promoted the development of new crops completed the income contributed to the country's economy by the banana. Shortly after his re-election began the search for a successor, since he/she was 72 years old. On August 14, 1991, was named as his successor the Minister of foreign Asuntios, Brian Allegne. At the end of 1991, he/she took one of his most controversial decisions, the granting of so-called economic citizenship to migrants from Asia, who, for this privilege, had to pay $35,000. Faced with protests from the opposition, this number has increased to $50,000. In April 1994 had to deal with a revolt of taxi drivers and owners of minibuses, which was intended to raise 65% circulation tax. Under pressure, led by the new leader of the Labour Party, Rosie Douglas, reduced this increase to 35%. He/She left the Government Headquarters after the elections of 12 June 1995, which did not go. It was replaced by his Brian Allegne dolphin.


HIGBIE, j., Eugenia: The Caribbean´s Iron Lady. (Washington, 1993).