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Text Box: Eugenia Charles
1919-2005

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Dame Eugenia Charles, DBE (May 15, 1919 – September 6, 2005) was the Prime Minister of Dominica from July 21, 1980 until June 14, 1995. She was the first female prime minister in the Caribbean.
Born Mary Eugenia Charles in Pointe Michel in Saint Luke parish, she began campaigning in politics during the 1960s against restrictions on press freedom. She helped to found the Dominica Freedom Party, which she served as leader from the early 1970s until 1995. She was elected to Parliament in 1970 and became Opposition Leader in 1975.
Though she and her party were frequently described as conservative, this was partially in comparison to socialist leaders in the Caribbean, as she did support some social welfare programmes. Other issues that were important to her were anti-corruption measures and individual freedom.
Eugenia Charles became Prime Minister when her party won elections shortly after Dominica gained full independence from British rule in 1979. She became more widely known to the outside world during the US invasion of Grenada in 1983, when, in her role as chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), she appeared on television with Ronald Reagan to offer her support.
For her uncompromising stance on this and other controversial issues, she became known as the "Iron Lady of the Caribbean" (after the original "Iron Lady", Margaret Thatcher). Shortly after her retirement from politics her party lost the 1995 elections. She also served as Foreign Minister of Dominica from 1980 to 1990. She was knighted in 1992.
On 30 August 2005, Dame Eugenia Charles was taken to a hospital in Fort-de-France, Martinique, for hip replacement surgery and died from complications soon after on 6 September, aged 86.

Tributes:
The Government and people of St. Lucia express condolences and sympathies with the Government and people of Dominica over the death of the late former Prime Minister, Dame Eugenia Charles. Dame Eugenia was a candid and forthright woman of strong character and integrity who was respected by all including her political opponents.
Serving as Prime Minister for three consecutive terms from 1980 to 1995, Dame Eugenia presided over the island’s immediate post-independence development.
A leading political figure of the Caribbean, she will be remembered, not only for her role in the US invasion of Grenada during the Reagan Administration, but also for her firm defence of the political principles in which she believed.
Dame Eugenia was a major contributor to the pride of Caribbean women and during her reign she inspired many young women to take the political road.
The people of Dominica, St. Lucia and the Caribbean have lost a formidable political figure, who served with distinction and dignity, and who departed from the political field with grace and humility.
She will always be remembered as we share in the grief of her loss.

Philip J. Pierre
Acting Prime Minister

September 7, 2005




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