In the 1980s, the Dominican government became one of the
strongest supporters of United States policies in the Caribbean.
Charles endorsed economic measures such as the Caribbean Basin
Initiative and favored support for the private sector (see Appendix
D, and Economy, this section). The DFP government also promoted
United States efforts to prevent the spread of communism in the
Ties between Dominica and the United States were solidified
during the October 1983 crisis in Grenada. After the assassination
of Grenadian leader Maurice Bishop, Charles convoked a meeting of
the OECS to discuss the crisis. On October 21, the OECS decided to
intervene in Grenada and invited friendly governments to provide
military assistance. Charles then joined the prime ministers of
Barbados and Jamaica in extending a formal invitation to the United
States through special emissary Ambassador Frank McNeil. Charles
joined President Ronald Reagan at the White House in the official
announcement of the intervention and vigorously defended the
action. Charles also addressed the Organization of American States
and the United Nations (UN), insisting on both occasions that the
intervention was necessary to stop communism.
Dominica's special relationship with the United States
consisted of material as well as philosophical elements. Charles
successfully pleaded with United States officials for funds to
expand Dominica's infrastructure. In the 1980s, the United States
provided approximately US$10 million in grants to expand the east
Dominica electrification program and rehabilitate the highway
linking the capital to Dominica's international airport.
Dominica had deep historical and cultural ties to Britain and
was a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Britain also provided
economic assistance to the country and was the single largest
recipient of Dominican exports. Despite these links, the Grenada
intervention strained relations between Dominica and the
Commonwealth. Leaders of African nations attending the Commonwealth
Summit in New Delhi in November 1983 charged that the intervention
had violated the principle of nonintervention in the internal
affairs of sovereign countries. Charles categorically rejected the
African position and stated that the intervention was vital to the
interests of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Charles also criticized
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for her initially hostile
reaction to the Grenada intervention, accusing Thatcher of having
turned her back on her friends.
The government also attempted to extend Dominica's
international relations farther afield and strengthened diplomatic
ties with both Taiwan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
Taiwanese technicians have conducted an agricultural research
program in Dominica and although no trade has developed between the
two nations, Taiwan has supplied regular infusions of aid for small
projects in schools, sporting facilities, and health services.
Relations within Caricom have been difficult as evidenced by
the collapse of the Multilateral Clearing Facility, the creation of
nontariff barriers between member states, the violation of rules of
origin regulations (utilizing extra-regional garments, for
example), and major difficulties over foreign policy (see Appendix
C). Partly in response to these Caricom difficulties, Charles
worked vigorously with the six other members of the OECS to
strengthen that subregional grouping.
Data as of November 1987