March 11, 2005
Garifuna head writes Disney

The protest over the possible negative portrayal of the Carib/Garifuna people in the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean continues to generate interest.

The latest salvo comes from Michael Polonio, president of the National Garifuna Council in a letter directed to the Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company. Polonio says in his letter that he is “at odds to understand why [Disney] are involved in the perpetuation of this brutal and unjust myth and wrongdoing against the Calinago (the Caribs) and their descendants.” {{more}}

The letter further contends that “there is no credible scientific evidence or reliable report that the people in question were cannibals.”

Polonio pleads further that “if the Walt Disney Corporation is indeed about integrity and truth, then we ask that you desist from filming this movie as currently scripted and that you hold honest, truthful, respectful and constructive consultations with the living descendants of the Calinago (Caribs) in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, St Vincent (known as Yurumien in our language) and Dominica.”

The Garifuna leader contends that theirs is “a story of epic proportions that needs to be told and we would not mind collaborating with your company in honestly and truthfully relating the Calinago/Garifuna/Carib story.”

This issue surfaced after it was publicized that the Walt Disney Company was about to begin shooting the sequel to the blockbuster Pirates Of the Caribbean in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica. Disney have been advertising for extras in Dominica.

From Dominica, where the largest and most organized group of descendants of the Caribs in the islands reside came a quick reaction. Charles Williams the Chief of the Caribs in Dominica has stated his objection to the manner in which it was being proposed to portray the indigenous peoples of the islands.

The matter was ventilated in the pages of the Searchlight through a flurry of articles and letters to the editor.