According to Countryaah, in July 1974, Edward LeBlanc retired from politics; his successor to the posts of prime minister and leader of the DLP was Patrick R. John. In the March 1975 parliamentary elections, DLP achieved a comfortable victory with 16 of the 21 seats.
Independently of each other, individual member states in the West Antilles negotiated independence agreements with the English in late 1975. For Dominica, the negotiations were led by Prime Minister Patrick R. John, DLP. The English Parliament adopted a new status for the island in 1978, and on November 3, 485 years after Columbus’s arrival, Dominica became an independent nation.
The demonstrations that took place on the same day gave a taste of the problems facing the new nation. Politically, two trends immediately emerged: a conservative, consisting of the old leaders of the party who opposed the independence, and a progressive whose social base was the young people who were in opposition to the government.
Dominica, unlike neighboring islands, lacked natural resources that could appeal to tourists and foreign investors. Many young people emigrated to neighboring islands while others more radically sought inspiration from the North American “black power” movement.
In May 1979, police severely cracked down on protesters protesting two laws that restricted access to forming free unions and freedom of speech; at the same time, certain secrets were published about John regarding his participation in the preparations for an attack by mercenaries against Barbados and his knowledge of the plans to supply South Africa with oil refined in Dominica. In a climate of rising violence, the opposition of the National Salvation Committee gathered demanding John’s immediate resignation, the appointment of Oliver Seraphine as interim prime minister, and the re-election of new elections. John was consequently forced to resign, and he was replaced by Seraphine from the progressive wing of the labor movement. Seraphine printed elections and expanded relations with neighboring governments.
The election was held in July 1980. Maria Eugenia Charles, who had a large majority behind her, became the first female head of government in the Caribbean. As the daughter of a wealthy and influential landlord, she described herself as “liberal, democratic and anti-communist”.
Shortly after his accession, the Prime Minister took drastic measures against the sectors of the army accused of meddling in drug trafficking. In the following months, the violence intensified and two coup attempts were witnessed, which were, however, averted by the government. Former Prime Minister John was accused by the government of conspiring with the coup makers and sentenced to prison terms.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Dominica demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.